Even though it’s technically spring, flu season just got started around here. I spent the last week tending feverish children and a feverish husband, and swallowing as many immune boosting herbs and concoctions as I could manage.
Any time we go through a week like this, I finish it off with a small prayer of thanks that we have good health insurance. The kind that allows me to take the oldest child to the ER for croup so severe that they x-rayed him to make sure it wasn’t something worse. The kind that supplies a free 24-hour nurses’ hotline so that I can call in the middle of the night when I’m worried about the youngest child’s high fever (and wondering how much fever reducer you can reasonably give a kid before it’s time to head off to the ER again). The kind of health insurance that pays for the prescription meds and other necessities so that I can afford the immune-boosting supplements to stay healthy myself.
And since I care about other people, like the mothers everywhere who are losing sleep right now as they worry over sick children, I feel that every family should have good health insurance that allows them to seek care for their children when they need it. Without going into debt. Which is why I love Obamacare, and I love universal health care (like the Canuks and the Europeans have) even more.
Fact: Kids get worryingly sick at really inconvenient times. Like at 3 am. Or on Sundays. Or on holidays. And when they aren’t old enough to talk to you and tell you what is wrong—or when they are, and they say something to you like, “I can’t breathe, Mommy. Help me, I’m dying!”—you really don’t want to screw around and put off getting medical care. You want to, NEED to, do something right then and there to help that little person get well.
Fact: Emergency room trips, even to the urgent care center, are extremely expensive. Our recent trip to Seattle Children’s urgent care center came accompanied by a base charge of $240. Then there was the medication that they administered and the two x-rays that they took. I don’t yet know the costs of those, but I am guessing it was a $1000.00 case of croup. But my child couldn’t breathe and none of the home remedies (steam, cold air, humidifier, eucalyptus oil, etc.) did anything to relieve his distress. He needed steroids and he needed them NOW.
Fact: Medical expenses regularly put families into debt. Some people delude themselves into thinking that families go bankrupt because of bad choices around buying homes, or spending too much on luxuries, or taking too many vacations. But this is simply not true. In more than half of bankruptcy cases, it’s medical debt that pushes a family over the edge. And if you don’t believe me, ask CNN.
Fact: Medical expenses are often accompanied by lost income. Our family is one of the lucky ones. I work from home with a flexible schedule. My husband has paid sick days. Family illnesses are a drag, but they are not going to bankrupt us. But what if we were small business owners and days lost to illness were days lost to productivity? If we had to halt production or close our storefront or miss deadlines because one of us (or our children) was ill? What if we worked hourly jobs? The lost income plus the cost of medical care could easily push us to financial ruin.
Fact: The purpose of a national health plan is to level the playing field. So that no matter someone’s income, they don’t have to decide between taking their children to the doctor and paying the rent. So that our nation’s entrepreneurs (and their families and their employees) are protected and can help create new jobs, new technologies and new industries. So that all Americans can get preventative care, early diagnoses of illness and appropriate treatments and live full, productive lives.
Everyone deserves a chance at the American dream. And I deeply hope that the Supreme Court will not abandon the American people this week by siding with those who would deny basic rights to their countrymen and women. Basic rights that our country was founded on, like the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Because without HEALTH, you don’t have life, let alone the ability to pursue happiness.