The biggest political ruckus right now in the U.S. is over health care. More specifically, it's about the push and pull of Obama trying to reform it and the Republicans accusing him of socialism and trying to kill old people. And it's been sparking a lot of rants inside my head that I need to get out.
As a college graduate, I was dropped from my father's health insurance plan. In order to stay covered, we're paying exorbitant rates for a COBRA plan which I can buy into for about a year and a half. If it wasn't for that contingency, I would no doubt constantly be anxious about what might happen if I was in a car accident, if I need stronger lenses, or if I just get the sniffles. Really, should anyone have to worry about that?
Then, I saw an ad the other day meant to undermine the public option. It featured a breast cancer survivor spouting statistics that a greater number of British patients die of breast cancer. There you go, something else to be afraid of, if we have a public option, you will die! By taking a statistic and reducing it's cause to one specific difference between the two countries, they've created a ridiculous argument that I'm afraid too many people will accept as fact. But here's the thing: at least in the UK, if you get breast cancer, you and your family won't lose everything to get treatment. And putting that completely aside, Obama isn't even proposing a system like the UK has. I guess they just had the best (read: worst) statistics. Classy.
Here's what I think: there's a lot of blame going around for people who don't have health insurance. I hear and read a lot of people saying that people who aren't insured are just lazy and need to get a job. Hmm, well, okay, but we do have over 10% unemployment, with people getting laid off for no reason related to their performance. Are they lazy? Then there are the small businesses which can't afford to buy insurance for their employees. Aren't small businesses part of the much-touted American dream? Are the people running the Mom and Pop grocery store lazy because they aren't pushing paper in a cubicle (not that there's anything wrong with that!)? If I'm working at least three part-time jobs, none of which provide health insurance, am I lazy? There are so many writers out there working freelance, doing what they love and making some money, but not "earning" benefits because of the business model of their field.
It seems to me that blaming the uninsured is just people's way of separating themselves from the fear of lay offs and the like. Because maybe if it's their fault it won't happen to you. But it can, and if it does, wouldn't you like the opportunity to break your leg without re-mortaging your home? With more and more students graduating every year, how can so many parents think that their children will become "the problem" if they aren't able to find a job immediately? Denying a problem by blaming others is no way to live.
And another thing (I'm on a roll now) for those who think the government shouldn't guarantee health insurance, that it isn't a right. What about the police, or the firefighters? Those are a right. You can hire your own security system or team, but if you're mugged, the police will come whether or not you've paid a monthly fee. Why can we expect the government to protect our property and our livelihood, but not our health? And if you don't ever call the police, or if you don't have a fire, you don't whine that your tax dollars are going towards all those lazy bums who did suffer those things. Because it's a right to a certain amount of security that we all accept.
I just think that everyone is entitled to reasonably priced healthcare. At minimum. We can argue about free healthcare and who should provide it until the cows come home. But someone who is out of work, or is working without benefits, should be able to get their prescriptions and see their doctor without losing a huge chunk of cash.
I know that this is essentially a rant. But where else can I rave?