I believe that every single person should have access to quality health care. Good healthcare leads to a longer, healthier life, and everyone deserves a chance at that. I used to be that hard headed young woman who had stronger beliefs on any number of topics which I didn’t really know too much about, until a couple years ago, when my mother fell ill. Being lower middle class in the US can be like the kiss of death if you get sick. My mother worked part time and had minimum insurance, which didn’t cover the medicine she needed; introducing rock. She made just a little too much money to qualify for Medicaid, which would have covered the drugs; meet hard place. The cost of the medicine out of pocket was over $3000 per month. Harder place.
Yes, I was devastated, but my belief is not solely about my mother, rather what she represented. She represented a person looking for help. Looking for someone to make them feel better; to take pity on them, and their situation, and grant them care. After writing letter after letter and making call after call I thought “why is this happening?”. When finally, our efforts were rewarded with a years worth of treatment through the company who manufactured the drug; all she needed.
I think back and wonder what made my mother different than the full time employees at her job, or even those who had just lost their jobs. All of them were at different levels of the health benefit scale; minimum, full, and none. Yet didn’t they all deserve a chance at survival if they were diagnosed with cancer?
I decided that the answer to that question was yes, and to fight the rest of my life to make sure that the healthcare system would change to realize that. I came to work in the health care field in England, where all health care is provided based on need, not ability to pay. I came to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of a system which I consider morally right and bring that knowledge back to the US to use in creating new policy and improve the system. I’ve always admired people who fight for what they believe in; equal opportunity to vote, to not be discriminated on the basis of race, gender, weight, or disability. But why not fight for health, to get better, or in some situations, to live? That is the fight that I choose.
This is what I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.