Although I rarely do it, I sometimes use this site as a place to talk about things other than just environmental issues. Today is one of those days.
I have recently joined the ranks of the 47 million Americans without health insurance. I am self-employed, make a good living, and I am healthy to the best of my knowledge. However, I cannot get private health insurance in this United States of America. You know, that place that many say has the “best health care in the world” – even though we are ranked 37th in the world behind places like Malta, Oman, Portugal, Iceland, Belgium, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, and Costa Rica. So much for having the best. We are also the only industrialized nation on earth that does not have cradle-to-grave, universal health care. How we are labeled as having “the best” by those fighting reform is beyond me, but it is crystal-clear that we are nowhere near the best in the world. Instead of trying to help improve our system and help more of our citizens get the care they deserve as fellow human beings, they are working their hardest to defeat reform that won’t negatively affect them in any way. (If they would watch anything other than Faux News, they would understand that.) The only things defeating reform will do is this – it will allow insurance companies to continue to cut you off when you get sick while simultaneously increasing premiums by up to 39% PER YEAR as they are doing in California. Certainly sounds like defeating reform is a good idea…if you happen to be an owner of an insurance company and/or are Superman and will never get sick. I am neither of those – and I no longer have health insurance.
I am 37 years old and healthy. I have always paid my medical bills and have never defaulted on anything. I pay my taxes. I work for a living. Yet because I had a teeny tiny spot of skin cancer removed almost 2 years ago, I have had my applications for health insurance rejected 5 times since January. Five applications, five rejections. In a single month. Why? “A history of skin cancer.” After paying monthly premiums since I was 22 years old and rarely using any of the benefits for anything more than a doctor’s visit, a 20 minute outpatient skin surgery and almost 2 years of cancer-free checkups is considered a “history of skin cancer”. Seems to be a pretty loose interpretation of the word “history” if you ask me. Want to know what a true history is? Well, here it is:
15 years of monthly payments to you for health insurance I barely used.
That’s history, guys. A one-time skin issue is not a history – it’s an event. Might it happen again sometime down the road? Sure, maybe. I get checked every 6 months just in case of that…meaning that it would be caught before it caused any serious damage. But I also suppose I could also get hit by a bus tomorrow and end up being hospitalized for a month. I guess you would call that a “history of getting hit by buses” once I got out, no?
We need reform and we need it today. In fact, we need it yesterday. Insurance companies continue to make billions in profit while cutting the sick from the ranks of the insured. How do you think they are making such huge profits? When you can collect premiums for years and never have to pay out claims, it’s pretty easy to keep the profit margins up.
President Obama, I am not asking for a handout. I don’t need socialized medicine like every other country on earth has already. (Although it is tempting to move to a country that has more concern for its citizens than its corporations) I need a a public option. I am more than willing to pay for health insurance without the help of any taxpayer money. I want to pay my fair share. I want insurance in case I get in a car accident or get sick or get hit by the aforementioned bus. I don’t need it to cover a once a year checkup or even generic drugs – I will happily pay out of my own pocket for that. But what I do need is some insurance against being financially wiped out because I have an accident or my body gets sick. We don’t need a mandate to buy insurance from private companies and we don’t need “socialized” medicine. Those two concepts will never fly here in America, since those against reform think nothing here is socialized. (Well, except for police, fire, EMT, libraries, schools, parks, roads, bridges, the airlines, etc.) What we need is a group plan, sponsored by the Federal Government, that allows those of us who have been deemed “uninsurable” or cannot afford the unregulated insurance market to buy health insurance at reasonable rates. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.
There are 47 million Americans without health insurance. In 2010 America that’s an embarrassing statistic, and one that needs to change. If you like your private health insurance – that’s great. Keep it. You may not like it so much when they drop you for getting sick, but you can keep it. In fact, I would prefer it if you did. However, don’t take away the ability of anyone else to get the insurance they may want and/or deserve – it’s not a very American way of thinking.
Please, President Obama – fix our healthcare system. We elected you to bring change to Washington and we need you to start doing that today. It’s time we stop celebrating corporate interests over the interests of fellow Americans. Enough is enough – help people get the care they need at prices they can afford. Stop letting health insurance companies line their pockets with billions of dollars while Americans lose their homes, their savings, and possibly even their lives trying to get medical care.
It’s just not right, and we can do better. We must.
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