My Thoughts on Health Care Reform



I've been hesitant to talk about my stance on health care reform. While its something I feel so very passionate about, its a can of worms I haven't wanted to open. Everyone's got an opinion on it, and I certainly don't have the time to take on changing anyone's mind here.

What I will say is that I have a story, and its been ongoing for many years. Growing up with a single parent, I was covered by my state's Medicaid program which took very good care of me. I could see a doctor, get a prescription, or even visit the hospital for very little cost. This program is available for my daughter, and I am happy to take full advantage of it for as long as my income level will allow. As a single parent, I am so grateful that this program exists.

Its not that I can't afford health insurance, its that I place more importance on other things in my life. I know that's why so many people jump to say "well that's your fault then" but really... I'd rather be able to have the money in my checking account to buy my daughter new shoes or to grab a box of tampons. I'm not so poor that I can't afford to have insurance, I just can't afford anything else on top of it because its simply not in the budget. I, like many Americans (not just single moms) am tightly budgeted in order to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. And by comfortable I don't mean $20 shampoo and organic milk, I mean "the electric will stay on this month and we're going to downgrade the cable for a little while but we're making it, kiddo!" If you choose to say that I'm irresponsible for this, I invite you to trade places for a bit. Come over here and check out this balancing act... if you're not convinced, you can kindly screw yourself... its hard work.

Its so frustrating for me to hear friends of mine talk about health care reform because 9 times out of 10 the people who are the biggest objectors are those that have never prayed for Tuesday to come so they could wait in line at the free clinic to get antibiotics they desperately needed LAST Tuesday. Its a bullshit system, but I'll never be one to knock it because its the only option for so many people.

My income level meets the requirements to receive state food/housing assistance but I choose not to take it simply because I don't feel like I need it. If I can afford to have cable, I can afford to pay for my own groceries. We simply can't afford to look at healthcare the same way. It should be every person's right to be properly treated and receive the same good quality care regardless of income level. Spend some time in the local health unit waiting room and tell me that its not necessary to have adequate coverage for all people. Talk to me about how you propose we get people who can't otherwise afford the level of care they deserve treatment to help them live better and longer... no one has a magic fix here, but public health care is and has been working in other countries, why are we so afraid it won't work here?

It all comes down to money, and that's such a damn shame. Its been said time and time again that we'll build a terrible system in which doctors have no motivation to treat patients well, and that's simply not true. We're spending so much time fighting over who's right and wrong, would we still be fighting about this if no one was making money off of either solution? Do we really place such a high value on money that we're comfortable admitting we care more about the financial implications of this change than we do fair and even care for all people? Why are we only focusing on money and not considering the most important aspect of the whole fight: how do we make sure that every American can receive quality care?

Long story very short, I suffer from chronic back pain and at the age of 25, find myself incapable of standing or sitting for long periods of time at least once or twice a month. Instead of undergoing the disc repair programs outlined by numerous chiropractors, or surgery recommended by my doctor, I depend on muscle relaxers, pain medications, and Cortizone shots to make it through the rough patches. Its absolutely no way to live, but I'm lucky in that my pain level is manageable most of the time. I cannot be treated for this problem since I don't have insurance which means I have to be very creative in how I go about pain management. Its not ideal, but I can't afford for this to become a pre-existing condition before I get decent insurance.

The frustration of having to deal with constant pain and no permanent or affordable solution only makes it harder to get well. I'm not saying that I know for certain that the current administration's proposed changes would make it better, but hell, something's gotta give here. I'm frustrated and discouraged by the state of things, and I truly believe that all Americans deserve affordable, quality health care without the worry of pre-existing conditions and high deductibles. I'm watching anxiously to see how everything unfolds, because I need to have hope that at some point I can walk into a doctor's office and receive a real solution.

We need this change, and we've got to make it happen.

2 comments:

September 18, 2009 at 8:04 AM Theresa said...

Heather,

For what its worth or does for you in your newly found happiness and comfort in your own skin, I do hope that I nor my sister caused any additional pain to you. Well, I can't speak much for her, but as for me, I had no clue. I'm sure that was what you wanted. I know that this took alot of healing for you and it may never completely fade away. I am happy to know that you are in touch with who you are. Such a wondeful feeling to have yourself back! Congrats! :)

September 18, 2009 at 9:23 AM mama-lama-ding-dong said...

Girl, we were kids- there's just so much we say and do at that age that makes no sense. I don't even remember why we didn't get along back in high school, but I'm so thrilled to see you and your family so very happy. Franci is a lucky kiddo for sure. <3 <3 <3