I just watched President Obama speak at the White House to doctors and media about his plan to combine the efforts taken for healthcare reform in Congress to “get it done.” He concluded his speech using the example of a woman who had breast cancer, who worked, who had good insurance through her work and her husband’s work and who still ended up in significant debt from her medical expenses and spends her time worrying about money and working hard to pay off the debt instead of spending the time working on her own health and spending time with her children. Her name was Laura Klitzka but it could have been my name or any number of women or men in the United States who have the same problem.
I try not to make this blog political and this post is not political either. This is about right and wrong and an ethical tenet that crosses religious boundaries – helping your sick. This is something advanced cultures value, but often it’s only given lip service. In order to truly help your fellow man, woman and child, we need healthcare that’s better than what we have now.
It doesn’t need to be formally socialized to the level it is in Canada or France (although those are ranked the best in the world on neutral studies, so it is important to look to them for guidance); it just needs to cover everyone adequately with quality options. We don’t want back alley procedures. I’m not talking abortions here – I’m talking about surgeries that people will try to get cheaper because they’re not covered by insurance. These things will happen more if insurance costs go up which will inevitably happen if the insurance companies stay in charge of the healthcare process.
Healthcare should be in the hands of the patient and the doctor. Not insurance companies. Insurance and government should be conduits to helping doctors and patients, not bottlenecks. They should not make us feel guilty for following doctors’ orders and getting expensive procedures. They should not put us in debt because we can’t afford what’s been recommended by the medical practitioners. They should only be concerned with helping us get better and helping prevent us from getting ill or injured in the first place. They should understand that creating debt in sick people means sick people stay sicker longer and in the long term, the economy suffers as well.
The real problem, of course, is shifting to a culture of consistent wellness away from acute band-aid reactive necessity. What President Obama seeks is only the next step in an important public battle for national health. What I seek is a world where we spend our time with our families and on meaningful work, not wasting time filling out forms and standing in lines only to get mediocre care and limited treatment. We have an opportunity to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people by supporting healthcare reform at this critical juncture. It’s for all of us and for our children.