Decent Healthcare Shouldn’t Be a Matter of Net Worth
One of my best friends died last year because he couldn’t afford health insurance. There were chest pains. He could only walk one block before having to stop to catch his breath.
At 2am his 13-year old son called 911 but it was too late. A week later I attended a funeral for a man who just turned 40.
Wherever you sit on the political spectrum, I think we’d all agree that income affects your ability to get decent healthcare.
A new report by the British medical journal The Lancet supports that opinion with facts. The high-level finding: “Wealthy Americans can now expect to live up to 15 years longer than their poor counterparts.”
While this shouldn’t be surprising, it’s still unconscionable. In America, no matter our individual economic situations, we all enjoy access to roads, protection by the military, and services from the fire department.
Why, then, is it dog-eat-dog when it comes to our health, the most important thing in life?
We’re all human, facing the inevitability of aging, the breaking down of the body and the erosion of the mind. Tomorrow morning, any of us may require life-sustaining surgery or medicine. Your child might need an examination to determine the cause of a potentially dangerous earache.
If people should agree on anything, affordable healthcare should be the topic. A no-brainer. Instead, it’s become a divisive, partisan issue replete with name-calling and mean-spirited labels being hurled about.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) isn’t perfect, but no first attempt at anything is spotless. It’s called progress. The Ford Model T led to the Prius, the mainframe computer led to the laptop. An individual creates something, then others tinker and innovate upon that original try.
If the human experience in total can be boiled down to one central activity, it’s been the striving to remain alive. The survival instinct.
We’ve developed shelters against extreme weather, adequate clothing, and reliable methods to feed ourselves. Continual advances in education and science have enhanced the quality of our lives.
Surely we should be able to increase the duration of everyone’s lives, regardless of their net worth.