To The Herald-Whig:
I recently came across a friend the other day who looked noticeably tired and worried. Lily is a single woman with adult children working in the health field, and she loves her pets. She had just been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and given only one or two years to live. She told me this in a way similar to news footage I've seen of someone standing in the middle of her tornado-ravaged neighborhood, bewildered, confused trying to make sense of her situation.
Her upcoming treatment will make her ill and will interfere with her ability to work, but she needs to continue to work to keep her health benefits. These worries are just a few more she now must handle, along with the near certainty of a shortened life.
Jason was the subject of a recent flier posted around town and in stores, probably by his friends and family. The flier was an announcement for a silent auction and benefit for him to help pay for his medical expenses, the result of a long-term treatment of a sudden illness. The good news is that he survived; the bad news is that no matter how much money is raised, it will pale in comparison to what he owes after what his insurance paid. He and his young family will be saddled with this debt for years.
Stories like these are too commonplace in our country.
Studies show medical expenses are the biggest cause of all personal bankruptcies, even when someone has health insurance. This is at a time when the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says "the life expectancy in the U.S. is lower than other developed countries, despite health funding increasing at a much faster pace."
And as if that weren't enough, the Republicans are pulling the plug on the Affordable Care Act, offering (worthless) policy substitutions and increasing the number of uninsured.
There is a moral as well as a practical reason for this country to join the rest of the developed world and provide its citizens some form of universal health insurance. This nation does better when we all do better.