Why Health Care Matters

My phone rang really early, that was never a good thing. It was mum and the news she had was bad. “It’s cancer. They opened him up and it was like a carpet across his stomach – not the inside of his stomach but all over his insides. It’s not good.” I was  on a plane the next day. We quickly organized and tried to bring research to an unsolvable problem. Cancer was going to win.

My loved one was laid off before the ACA (Obamacare) was around. It took him a while to get a job. He knew he was sick and he was afraid to go to the doctor because he didn’t have insurance and he knew if he did he would have a pre-existing condition so he waited. We’ll never know if he would have lived had he been diagnosed earlier. That chance was lost to this two teenage sons.

Our struggles to keep him employed and on insurance was an added stressor that shouldn’t have been necessary. He was a new employee and he never really did any real work for the company. It was their kindness that kept him on insurance and it was never a done deal. Had he lost his insurance his family would have lost everything. His hospital bills were massive. So was the effort the family, especially his brothers, put in to make sure that he was never alone and that he had the best care possible. Many people are not that lucky. I remember a later evening at the hospital where a woman was just screaming because she wasn’t sure where she was and she was scared, in pain, and she was  alone.

I’ll never know if an earlier diagnosis would have saved his life. What I do know is that he was sick, he knew it, and he couldn’t do anything about it without risking his health care costs falling entirely on his family. It’s a choice no one should have to make. Rather than fighting to have fewer covered to allow for some kind of freedom and equality we should be fighting to have more people covered.

Mum died from cancer as well – hers was Pancreatic. She was covered by Medicare but her treatments needed that secondary insurance that seniors have to buy and that seems kind of ridiculous as well. Why do we have an insurance program for seniors and not have it cover all of their costs? The grace of insurance and a step-father who was willing to pay anything for my mum was her saving grace. What she made as a teacher and the insurance she would have had without my step-dad would have made her ending very different. Even so, insurance was always on the mind. Mum worried about it and my step-dad had work split with me providing care while he focused on all of the insurance/finance issues. Even with all of that we struggled to get her sufficient care. It was partially her fear of going to a doctors office or any kind of medical facility near the end. My mum’s biggest fear was dying in a hospital or being forced to “live” in one. When she died she was ready and she would have used that ability to choose her own time had it been available in CA at that time.

So tell me why are Republicans so concerned about a woman’s body before she might give  birth and a person’s life at the ending and yet want no responsibility in between, unless it is to restrict what you might do, especially if you are a woman.

So why on earth do Republicans care so much about certain things and so little about everything else. They want to give us freedom but the freedom they want to give is to not be able afford health insurance. Freedom for insurance companies to be able to do what they want to do. We’ve been there and done that. It didn’t work.

We need to solve this problem once and for all and the game that the Republicans are playing is just causing too much stress for everyone. I can’t say how many times I’ve heard a Republican say that Medicaid was meant for mother and children and the blind not the able-bodied – discounting entirely that distinguishing one parent over the other is it’s own kind of ridiculous – and they are furious that these poor able-bodied working people are receiving health insurance/care. They also want to select out types of care. Should my loved one have had to have chosen what care he could receive under an ala-carte menu. What if the cancer option was too expensive?

Here’s the thing, health insurance is something everybody except an extraordinary lucky person is going to need care. If you are 22 and fall while climbing you will need care. If you are 50 and you get cancer you’ll need care, same thing if you are 25. What about when your baby is born at 24 weeks? That is a family story also. We had a baby born way too early and part of it was because his parents bypassed a primary care hospital, to get to the one that was faster to reach by time, but further by miles. The parents were given a choice. Either change hospitals or your baby will not be covered when he is born early. The mother’s contractions had stopped at the first hospital, which was a premier neo-natal facility. When they moved her, at night, they dropped her stretcher, her contractions started again and her son was born at 24 weeks and he was so tiny… We were very lucky because he lived and is a wonderful man today, but that forced move was unnecessary and is the heart of the problem with for-profit medicine. We need to end this ridiculous argument of who is privileged enough to get health care. We are the richest country on this planet. Why can’t we just take care of every person in the country?

The world is changing and the nature of work is changing and we have to move and look forward and innovate not work at taking ourselves  backwards while the world goes on without us.


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