I am turning 27 in March and have been out of college for almost 5 years now. Since then I haven’t had insurance of any kind. I’ve worked a series of hourly waged jobs and have never made more than enough to simply pay my bills and get by. $200 a month for insurance is simply not in my budget as long as I’m living in a town where rent is this high. I had my last dentist appointment my senior year in college. I get my yearly pap smears at Planned Parenthood. Last June I was convinced I had cancerous symptoms (by WebMD, of course) and had to see a gynecologist. She gave me a pap, and ran some other tests. She was concerned that I was “a little cyst-y” and sent me to a specialist for a breast ultrasound. At the end of it I turned out to be completely healthy, though I apparently have “dense breasts.” The total cost came close to $600. Around the same time, my mouth stopped opening because one of my four wisdom teeth was burrowing into my jaw bone and preventing it from doing so. Having it pulled cost me $300 and I still have three that will eventually need to come out.
In December Mr. Barnes came home with the best news I’d heard all year: his job, at a small but growing company, was going to get employee health insurance, which I, as his wife, would also be entitled to. I literally cried at this news. Everything was going to be better. I was going to go crazy! Check ups! Teeth cleanings! Not worrying about going bankrupt whenever I feel ill!
He received the package information in January. His new coverage costs him around $50 a month which comes out of his paycheck before taxes. It covers dental and eye care. His co-pay is almost nothing. He’s finally going to be able to go to have his bad back looked at and get an updated eye prescription.
In order to cover me it would cost $400 a month. There is no possible way we could afford that.
I understand the partisan issues that we have to deal with when debating policy. As pro-choice as I am, I do understand the mindset behind people who disagree with me. I think the Supreme Court is wrong and stupid to give corporations personhood status and first amendment protections to buy elections, but I know what ideas their decision is based on. I don’t like the religious political agenda that is currently being pushed in lots of area of our politics, but for the most part I get it. I get it, I think they’re misguided, but I get it. But Health Care Reform I. don’t. get.
People are dying. People across America are fighting for their lives and losing. They are begging for help and the hand with the life vest is being swatted away. MILLIONS of people are uninsured. Here in California, Anthem has raised their rates 39%. And according to the large-scale study of medical bankruptcy by Harvard,
“[Health insurance] didn’t protect 1 million Americans who were financially ruined by illness or medical bills… Most of the medically bankrupt were middle-class homeowners who had been to college and had responsible jobs — until illness struck…three-quarters of the medically bankrupt had health insurance.”
We’ve all heard the stories: loopholes that exempt companies from paying claims, denying legitimate claims to delay payment, preexisting conditions, and co-pays that are still above and beyond what any average person could afford. The system is so clearly broken. Americans want reform. Doctors want reform. Both groups want a public option. We already accept some forms of socialized health care. EVERY OTHER industrialized democracy in the world provides health care to all of its citizens. And we are the richest nation ON EARTH.
I just don’t get it.
Why? Why is this the issue that Republicans are drawing a line in the sand over– helping Americans stay alive– why is this the issue that has become the ultimate stage for a culture war? Why are Democrats letting this slip away? What could be less controversial than the idea that in 2010, in America we shouldn’t have to die from pneumonia or go lose our jobs and homes over a broken leg. Why would anyone think that things will get better if we just let the insurance companies do what they have always done? TORT reform and opening state boarders for insurance sales will not fix the problem. Continuing to make the Insurance Industry accountable to no one will not fix the problem. Starting over won’t fix it. If this is such a “Christian Country” I’d like to know why there isn’t less crying over teaching science in science class and a bit more loving of our neighbors.
People need help. It’s not crazy and it’s not communist to believe we should help them. I need help. And I tired of hearing that helping me would send our country into a never-ending spiral of red-totalitarian-apocalyptic free fall. A little help. That’s all we want. Just a little help.