Health care for all

Universal health care is a right of all citizens.Give us a disaster and we’re there with help. Name it Harvey or Sandy or Marie and we break out the chainsaws to clean the fallen forests from our neighbors’ roofs. The call goes out to replenish the Red Cross and we hit our phones to text $5 or $10 to aid people we have never met.

Those acts, and myriad others, reflect a warm human need to care for our fellow inhabitants.

But if a working mom suddenly learns she has cancer, she better have good insurance – and at her own expense or that of her employer.

We have single-payer Interstate highways, single-payer schools, single-payer police/fire/EMS, and a host of similarly funded services. We do not think of those services as socialism. But let someone use the words “health care” and socialism in the same sentence, and the walls go up.

Certain politicians have done an excellent job of portraying any national health care program (except Medicare) as “socialism,” and riddled by financial difficulties. Every election season, we are told that Medicare or Social Security or both will have vanished by the time our kids need it.

And when the election season is over, so are the problems with health care, at least in the political discourse.

Insurance companies lobby against national single-payer health care, and with good reason. When we are young and healthy and paying for insurance we mostly do not use, insurance companies eagerly sell us, individually or through our employers, insurance that, lets face it, we probably will have to break a bone to need. They pad the costs with co-pays and deductibles, further limiting what they have to pay.

Then, when we become senior citizens, like an old car that finally starts costing money for ball joints and engine overhauls, the government the full tab.

Thus, we subsidize the commercial insurance industry at both ends of the financial spectrum.

We are told a national medical insurance would take away our ability to choose a doctor, yet most employer-provided plans involve “networks,” and if a desired doctor is not a member, commercial insurance will not pay.

A few years ago, I was 600 miles from home when I had a medical emergency. Because I did not obtain advance authorization from my Primary Care doctor, my insurance refused to pay. So much for choice.

Single-payer medical insurance, under which all citizens would be covered, should encourage healthy living beginning at youth, and therein lies another objection. There are too many industries selling us food, for instance, proven to lead to such illnesses as diabetes and obesity. By the time we are diagnosed with such ailments, our primary recourse is to turn to other commercial industries for the medications to alleviate the effects.

A national medical insurance program should include not only primary health care for broken arms and flu and the common cold, but also specialty medical care for illnesses such as cancer, that can bankrupt the afflicted out of their homes. And it should cover mental health care, assuming we really are concerned about the number of youthful suicides.

It must be attached to the patient, the way car insurance attaches to the driver, so the coverage applies regardless of where the need occurs.

There is plenty of documentation showing taxes would increase slightly for all citizens, but with the loss of co-pays and deductibles the net cost of single-payer insurance would be considerably decreased.

So why is it we are eager to help hurricane victims, and OK contributing to safe roads, schools, and police and fire services, but so against helping a neighbor with a medical ailment?

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