When my two-year old daughter was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in 1998, we were thrown head-first into the complexities of the American medical system. Even as we fearfully navigated that crisis, we were incredibly grateful for our health insurance. During that stressful and frightening time, I was thankful that I did not have to fight with our insurance company for coverage. Throughout her cancer treatment and recovery, our insurance never questioned a single charge.
Last month, we had a new scare with our daughter and feared she had a tumor recurrence. Thankfully, she did not. Once again, I felt overwhelming relief that we have heath insurance. Even so, I can’t help but think of other families confronting a serious illness who are un- or under-insured. The stress and anxiety of having to fight, beg or borrow to get the treatment you or a loved one needs is a shameful by-product of our dysfunctional health care insurance system.
In the most fundamental sense, this is so wrong on so many levels. How can the richest country in the world allow health care to be a privilege for some and out of reach for others? The rich can afford it; there are provisions for the poor. But what about those in the middle now struggling, losing jobs and losing insurance? And what about the businesses who would like to provide coverage for employees but can no longer afford it?
Like most Americans, I am fearful about this economy and cannot get my mind around “trillions” of dollars being shelled in bailouts, loans, rescue plans here and there. I am at times furious, despondent or resigned as I suspect most people are.
I do, however, believe that the President is absolutely correct that we must bring health care spending under control, starting right now, even if it means huge outlays up front during this awful economic mess.
One could argue that “huge” is a relative term. “President Obama’s health budget outlines eight principles of reform to expand coverage and bring down costs, and comes with a price ticket of 76.8 billion dollars for fiscal year 2010. ” see http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/140494.php. That figure does not seem so “huge” when we compare it to the various bottomless pit corporate, financial and foreclosure rescues for which taxpayers are paying with no end in sight.
So those who favor reform must speak up and not let the political process kill it. Too many families have suffered too much from lack of insurance. In the United States of America in the 21st century, health care insurance should be a right, not a privilege.