Health for Everyone, Everywhere

Here’s the story of H. Alan Scott:

“So sit back and let me tell you a story of two Americans that have been denied coverage. It’s the true story of two brothers, living in two different health care economic enslavements, and how they are navigating their way to, what’s that? Yeah, freedom. Well, a kind of freedom. Basically the free version of the Freedom App.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was, uh, well, just another day in the United States of Don’t Get Sick Because You Won’t Be Able to Afford It.

In June of 2012 I was pretty much your typical young American. I had a full-time job that paid well enough, offered health insurance, and allowed me the freedom to explore my creative endeavors. On the cusp of turning 30, I was healthy, ate right (Linda McCartney-level vegetarianism), a marathon runner, barely drank, never did drugs. Basically I was the model of perfect health. If my parents had not insisted on my needing health insurance, I probably would not have joined my employer’s health plan. I didn’t need the extra money it would have saved me, but still, who doesn’t want extra money, right?

Then I got cancer. Seriously? I was the healthy one! Nobody in my family had cancer. In the matter of a month I had surgery, lost some teeth, and started chemo. In no time I went from being the model of perfect health to being the model of “FML!”

The presidential election was underway while I was in chemo. I would listen to Romney and other Republicans talk about ending Obamacare, how it would ruin the country. As I heard them talk, my medical bills piled up. Even with insurance, the bills were too much for me.”

Even with his insurance he said the bills were too much for him. This is only one story out of the thousands, maybe even millions showing us how unaffordable insurance can be.

How do you know who “deserves” Health Care?

Some people are being denied health insurance all together. Many can’t afford it or there are stories of people being denied insurance because of pre existing health conditions. How are they supposed to make sure they are in a good health position? People being denied insurance means they are being denied health care such as simple check up or a hospital stay which can endanger a persons life. To have the “healthy country” everyone says we should strive for, everyone should be able to have access to the care they personally need to be healthy and we could achieve that overall health.

According to an article by Grace Kiser on The Huffington Post, a recent survey found that over the last 3 years, 12 million Americans were either refused overall coverage, refused coverage for a specific condition or subject to higher premium costs. Think about it, that’s 12 million people that aren’t getting the care that they deserve when they need it. People say you get what you deserve, well, everyone deserves to know that they will be able to afford to be healthy. People have this theory that people that can’t afford their health coverage are just doing something wrong and need to get their money situation together. Yes, few times that is the case but, even those people deserve an affordable way to make sure they are healthy if something tragic happens.

Health Care: Privilege or Human Right?

Some people believe that health care is not a privilege but a human right. I for one, would have to agree because everyone should be granted the care that they need in a timely manner and for an affordable price. There are organizations and associations trying to push for health care to become a human right. The AMA Journal of Ethics states, “health as a human right differs from most other human rights. Most widely recognized human rights are framed as “negative rights,” i.e., rights with which society cannot interfere; the right to health, on the other hand, is a “positive right,” i.e., something society has an obligation to provide. The main challenges to the right to health movement thus stems from the difficulties in defining health and its minimum entitlements as positive rights and determining who is responsible for ensuring their provision”. Considering health care is seen as a “positive right”, everyone should be granted that right. People need to know that they are going to be able to keep themselves and their families safe and, above all, healthy.

On the other hand, some people believe that healthcare IS a privilege NOT a human right. But what standards would have to be met for you to be “eligible” for health care? People shouldn’t be considered eligible or non eligible. Everyone should be considered lucky enough to be able to stay healthy. According to plum dad on Daily Kos, “Health care is a privilege to those who can afford it, either by paying for it directly as individuals, or paying indirectly through an insurer or government.”

But what about those people that can’t afford it? What are they supposed to do? Sit back and hope themselves or anyone else they have to care for doesn’t get sick or hurt so they don’t have medical bills to pay that they can’t afford? What about people with little kids? Everyone knows that little kids get sick all the time whether it’s a sore throat or an ear infection, they would need meds which means they would need health care coverage to get the prescriptions they need.

Fatalities Due to Lack of Health Care

Many would never think of this possibility but, people do die from lack of healthcare. According to Obamacare Facts, it’s estimated there are between 20,000 and 45,000 deaths a year due to not having health insurance. Obamacare Facts also states that more than 130,000 Americans died between 2005 and 2010 because of their lack of health insurance. The number of deaths due to a lack of coverage averaged three per hour. Also, One in five adults under age 65 and nearly one in ten children are uninsured. Uninsured individuals experience much more risk to their health than insured individuals. In its 2009 report America’s Uninsured Crisis: Consequences for Health and Health Care, “the Institute of Medicine points to a chasm between the health care needs of people without health insurance and access to effective health care services. This gap results in needless illness, suffering, and even death. The uninsured:

  • are less likely to have a usual source of care outside of the emergency room
  • often go without screenings and preventive care
  • often delay or go without needed medical care
  • pay more for medical care”

This is a problem that this country needs to fix. If we don’t fix it, the number of fatalities due to lack of health insurance is only going to keep rising.

We need to come up with more ways that people can at least be assisted in some way to be able to afford health insurance so that these fatality numbers and decrease. We need to make our country as healthy as possible so we can keep striving to be better in years to come.

Health isn’t just supposed to be affordable for everyone, it has to be available to everyone as well.

Free clinics like these are what this country needs more of so everyone can stay healthy.

Featured Image by Tax Credits/Flickr

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