Tuesday, 01 December 2009
originally posted at SocialistAppeal.org
My fiance, Paul, is a member of the Workers International League and I follow the Socialist Appeal paper very closely. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the debate over health care reform and the struggle by some for REAL change in the way we handle health care in America, so I am writing SA to share my own personal health care nightmare.
Sometime in late 2008 I learned the hard way that I had a severe allergy to a particular brand of laundry detergent. An ER visit and thousands of dollars later I’ve also learned that simply having insurance does nothing at all to guarantee that you’ll get the care you need when you need it. My high deductible insurance policy, which I had purchased out of pocket, refused to cover the ER visit and several subsequent doctors visits until I could pay the annual deductible in its entirety.
Fast-forward to June of this year: though I had mostly recovered from my allergic reaction I was now battling chronic eczema – which had resulted from the irritation of the allergic reaction – and making tough choices; cutting whatever corners I could to try to keep expenses under control and keep Paul and I out of the red while paying down my medical debt. Considering I was paying thousands of dollars a year for an insurance policy which refused to cover just about anything I decided to take a risk and drop my insurance, saving us $100 per month, and joined the 50 million Americans who hope against hope that they don’t get sick.
A short time later, as these things always seem to go, I got sick after all! An underpaid, overworked Nurse Practitioner at Walgreens’ for-profit “take care” clinic diagnosed a nasty skin infection on my legs as staph – resulting from my eczema and ultimately from the allergic reaction last year. The NP referred me to a dermatologist who I had to pay up front and who I had to fight for the antibiotics I really needed (the “Dr.” wanted to sell me skin care products instead!).
Its been several months since and I’m still not out of the woods yet as the staph may have found its way into my blood and I cannot afford to find out right now. What should have been a minor skin infection – fully treatable with antibiotics – morphed into a potentially life-threatening illness. To make matters worse; my full-time job at a school district in St. Louis County offers no benefits and no paid sick days or time off for illness because the district has succeeded for years in keeping out the union. When my employer found out I was on antibiotics for staph and two of my co-workers were sick with pneumonia they sent us home and told me not to come back for 48 hours. When we came back to work we were harassed and my co-workers’ jobs were threatened because we’d been absent – but it was the boss who told us to go home! How is it that you can be punished for being sick?!?!?
What it comes down to is this: People get sick sometimes, even the really healthy ones who exercise and eat right and can afford really expensive insurance and doctors and preventative care. There are certain things you just cannot plan for and have no real control over when they happen. No one should be punished for being sick, either by their bosses or by crushing debt incurred by those seeking treatment – or further illness or even death for those of us who have no choice but to put off treatment as long as possible, like me and my family.
Under capitalism life isn’t fair — its downright tragic! None of this can begin to change so long as health care is a privilege reserved for a few; so long as insurance company death panels can ration care to the most profitable, already healthiest customers and condemn the rest of us to illness and death – for a profit! What we need in this country is Free, Quality health care for all as a fundamental Human Right and that is why I support H.R.676 for single payer health reform as a first step toward real reform, because the only health care guaranteed to be “affordable” to all is free health care. This is also why I support the WIL in the struggle to build a better world for us all.
Support H.R.676 and S.B.703 for a Single Payer, Universal NOT for-profit National Health Service; for a socialized system to guarantee FREE, QUALITY health CARE for ALL as a human right!