Healthcare. If you have access to it, you probably always have, and you don’t think about it much. If you don’t, then it is a luxury available only to middle- and upper-class families. Why is it, in this land of freedom and opportunity, that only the middle and upper tiers of our society receive adequate medical care? The truth is, even financially sound American households are skating on thin ice, and most don’t know it. Here in Middle America, any of us are just a malignant tumor or auto accident away from financial ruin.
President Obama presented eight principles for healthcare reform in his fiscal year 2010 outline. While I believe all were vital, three in particular stood out: that families would be protected from bankruptcy and debt due to healthcare costs; that Americans would be able to maintain healthcare coverage if you lose or change your job; and that all Americans would be assured affordable, quality healthcare.
I realize that access to healthcare is not a right, but why not? It is viewed as such in every other industrialized nation. This is America, after all. We have in the past, and must continue, to do whatever necessary to maintain the integrity of our nation, and right now, our healthcare system is lacking.
For years, insurance and drug companies have been raking in billions by denying coverage and charging predatory prices for drugs. The current system provides excessive salaries to physicians, while fear of lawsuits causes physicians to order unnecessary diagnostic procedures. All of this is happening on your dime. With President Obama’s plan, the average family with an income of 400% of the poverty level (about $98,000 annually for a family of four) would pay approximately the same as they are now, and they would receive a tax cut based on use.
For those of us who have been blessed with adequate healthcare, the idea of reform is unsettling, if not downright scary. This is because most of us have not been on the other side of the issue. Imagine the gray experience of a free clinic waiting room, or having to combat pancreatic cancer with nothing more than a steady regimen of Advil and alcohol. It’s time for a positive change. After all, if health is our true wealth, then we are in the depths of a recession far more serious than anything financial.