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As many of you have read or know about, I have been in the hospital. In fact I have been hospitalized for one thing or another at least once for the last 7 years. This morning my husband pulled out of his briefcase a packet for long term healthcare coverage; you know, the kind of insurance that advertises with a duck on the teevee. Of course, this would be excellent insurance for us had we the extra money to pay for such a luxury… someone to take care of my duties whence I am tucked away convalescing. Despite my husband’s decent salary (we can pay our bills – we can’t vacation, we can’t splurge on anything extravagant – but we can pay the bills), we must forgo such a generous offer from his employer. And he is a lucky man – to be able to bring in enough salary to pay the bills – because there are so many out there who cannot afford to do so right now and many do not suffer the consequences of ill health as our family has endured over the intervening ‘hospital’ years.
I know that we are fortunate. Despite all of our extra cash being directed to pay uncovered medical expenses – and there are a lot! His job barely provides for our family expenditures, and though it truly is bare, we manage. I keep coming back to a state of frustration about how other people are coping. How can they be? If my husband were to lose his job we would be done for. We have no extended network of family who could help us and we would be out on the street if he couldn’t find other employment quickly. It is a frightening scenario and though we are doing okay – it is one that worries me. Then I look around and see people who are not worried about this struggle – they are living my fear. As I drove down I-10 the other day several truckloads of furniture were traveling the freeway with me. These are people who couldn’t afford moving vans and are taking the possessions that would fit in the bed of a truck – that was it. They are headed to share homes and resources with extended family and desperate.
There are no jobs here. The economy is not taking a sunny turn up – for real people it is taking a decisive turn towards the bad. The more stress, the more social and economic pressure, the more problems people have coping, the more healthcare becomes a significant factor. Healthcare reform is not about giving handouts to people, it really is about making people healthy and strong enough to creatively work through this economic crisis. Having one ER visit without insurance at this point is the ruination of a family’s economic stability. Lacking insurance is about not having a job that sufficiently provides. Most Americans are today who are employed are working at jobs that are economically insufficient. The bill has to be paid somewhere. Either we are going to continue in the circle-jerk methodology of paying off wall street to support markets that continue to fail American workers or we need to take responsibility for healthcare in our democracy.
With the recent failings of democratic leaders to pass a healthcare bill, and the republicans clamoring to ‘start all over’ rather come to any agreement on healthcare – we the people – are going to have to get involved. We are going to have to try this democracy thing out and quit relying on elected officials to do the work for us . We must figure out a way to resolve the juggernaut of healthcare reform because it will not be a stock market crash that brings this country to it’s knees – it will be an emergency room visit that will bankrupt us all.