Friday, September 4, 2009

I call a time out for health care

Time out from chilled soups, seasonal produce, and my daughter's crazy outfits.

As a five-year cancer survivor, I've thought from time to time that I wouldn't wish something like I went through on my worst enemy. I can't even begin to explain how horrible it was to think that I could die and leave behind a four-year-old who might not even remember me years later. I remember thinking "Jeez—just give me enough time to launch her through adolescence, get her to an age where she will remember how insanely I love her and how badly I did not want to leave her." It was hell, in addition to all the tests, waiting, procedures, and recovery.

But lately I've been . . . um, sort of . . . wishing it on people. All sorts of people, even ones I do not even know. Even some I really like. But limited to people who oppose health care reform. I don't think it's a coincidence that most of these people are "haves." They have good health insurance, good educations, good jobs, and came from good families. No coincidence that these things often go together.

But let's start chipping away at some of that. Here's what I have planned. Start off with a good job that includes good insurance. A house? Yes, that too. Let's add an illness, say cancer. Now let's subtract the job—through no one's fault; there's a recession, you know. Oops—there goes the health insurance. You might get another job; you might not, at least not right away. Or you might get a job that does not include health insurance. I hear those are becoming all the rage these days. Good luck purchasing affordable health insurance given your preexisting condition. There's a good chance if things get bad for you, any private health plan you can afford will leave you with a lot of uncovered care. Maybe you never find that affordable coverage. So you . . . what? Raid the kids' college fund? Cash out your retirement? Fine. Is it still fine when you are forced to sell your home? My breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and follow up would have put us through our savings and out of our home even in one of the most expensive markets in the country. Or course you've got options. Maybe you won't sell the home but instead skimp on treatment. Or follow up. But that's silly: When you're dead, you don't need a house. Oh, wait . . . there's that family you leave behind. They might like a house.

I'm not that far away from this scenario. I have the job and the insurance; I've also got the preexisting condition. My husband has the job, but in a bid to stay afloat during these difficult economic times his employer has just cut health insurance for dependents. It's that or lay people off altogether. Take away just one piece—my job—and the rest could go pretty quickly. And I'm one of the haves: well educated, good job, healthy savings. Which I have because I have worked hard and lived responsibly? Yes, but also because I was born in the right set of circumstances that included positive examples, support, and opportunities—it's called dumb luck. I hope you've had it too.

But does affordable health care need to be your problem for it to be a problem? If it's a problem for a majority of Americans, isn't it everyone's problem? Isn't that what being a country is about? For fuck's sake—isn't that what Jesus would have wanted?! Big breath. I'm an atheist, after all. But for reasons that completely escape me, there is this weird link between conservative politics and religion. Go figure.

I'm not saying the government should take it all over or give it all away. I'm just saying that basic health care, including what can end up being fairly extensive health care when you are really sick or hurt, should be within reach of everyone. Without government intervention, the present system works for too small a number of people. Something's got the change. I think Jesus would want the net cast wider.

If you're still here, thanks for listening. I'll be back to corn tomorrow, but don't count me out for Obama's address to school children.


Anonymous said...

You nailed this. I was hoping you would weigh in (can't help but remember your election-era posts!!)

But honestly, yes, this is exactly how it all goes bad and when did we start caring more about money than each other? Sometimes I'm so discouraged by this great country of ours--or should I just say, discouraged by those who lose sight of the common good.

I'll be back tomorrow for your take on Obama and the schoolkids. ;-)

Purple Flowers said...

Great post; perfect description. I will come back to visit after the Presidents' message to school kids.
I really enjoy visiting your blog! There's always something of interest.

KatieGirlBlue said...

Thank you. Amen.

Seems that myopia may be more of a killer than heart disease if folks don't start seeking treatment.

Trevor said...

I'm an atheist too but all I can say is "amen". Also amen to the 'haves and have nots" part. That seems to drive so much political discourse these days. Why is it that in a society and country as rich (yes, rich) as this one that health care is less of a right than education?

Kate said...

I'm with you 100%, sister.

Brate said...

It doesn’t seem to me as healthcare cant be made to feel luxurious. My experience with the elite health care services defines a very different story. Right now, I am engaged in concierge wellness program which is designed for healthcare at concierge level. They are providing me medication with care at the highest level of comfort. Their wellness program allows me to have a direct access to my personal physician via phone and email, but also in the emergency situation which I had because of having a heart attack, physician came home and also were present in the emergency room to expedite my care. They provided me a patient care concierge who managed all my transportation and accommodation. All this meant a lot to me when it comes to health. So, a concierge level hospitalization is a boon to me, and many other who are desiring to experience.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely dead on.

When we were going through the entire whooping cough episode I kept thinking how lucky we were to have good insurance and wondering what in the world we would've done if we hadn't. H's room in he PICU was over $1300 a day. And that was just his room - multiply by eight days and tack on the other charges. It adds up fast.

Kristin said...

I'm with Trevor, even though you're an atheist, AMEN! We're haves, but are smart enough to realize we could easily NOT be, especially since only one of us is employed. It is utterly ridiculous that this country does not have health care guaranteed for all. And who the heck thinks the insurance industry has their best interests at heart? Puh-leeze! Don't ever get off that're great.

Kate said...

Well said. I don't understand how ANYONE can believe that our current healthcare system is ok. Or that healthcare reform is a bad thing. Same with the Obama address...since when did having our PRESIDENT encourage children to stay in school become a bad thing?
I am starting to feel like I woke up in Bizzaro world and have an overwhelming desire to go buy a small farm in rural Ireland and be done with all of it. Or maybe Italy...the climate is a bit kinder.