The Health of Our Nation Depends on Health Care

health symbolWithout our health we have nothing. There’s no pursuit of happiness if we are not well. Good health is something we take for granted. I spent 10 years volunteering with pediatric bone marrow transplant patients. Those kids shaped me and moved me in profound ways and most certainly influenced my perspective on health care. Many of the families I volunteered with had reached their lifetime insurance limit in the course of treating their child for cancer and other serious illnesses. That means these families were left with the choice of continuing treatment and going into debt so grand that we cannot begin to conceive of it, or to halt all treatment at the chance to save their child. It’s a medical iteration of Sophie’s Choice.


I am not talking about the destitute and uneducated whom so many are quick to judge. These were working, insured families who came to our research hospital by referral from doctors all over the country. A little appreciated fact about health care reform is that the lifetime limit for insurance coverage has been lifted for millions of Americans, including 28 million children. The Affordable Care Act actually marries health and care, something insurance companies care nothing about. Most consumers do not even realize there is a lifetime cap on insurance benefits. In most cases that cap is one million dollars. In the case of catastrophic or terminal conditions, one million dollars does not stretch as far as you think. The cost of lifting this limit is nominal and brings peace of mind to millions of people.

Let me briefly share another anecdote about a friend. She’s a working, single mom who became suddenly ill. She was in acute kidney failure. She requires dialysis and doesn’t meet the criteria for a kidney transplant, leaving her with the heavy knowledge that she will not live to raise her children. Due to her regular dialysis, she missed work and lost her job, meaning she lost her insurance coverage. In short, my friend was left homeless, all from something that was out her control and could strike any one of us. She’s back on her feet and faring well but faces incredible debt.

Affordable health care and access to health care are critical. We cannot reserve access to medical care for the rich alone. Our society is segregated enough by wealth, class, race, education, and religious beliefs. We don’t need to fuel this divide, especially based on something so fragile as one’s health. While so many banter about individual rights and focus on the “Why should I pay for someone else?” mentality, just remember that the person benefiting could be you. Besides, the very nature of insurance is to pool money from the healthy to pay for the sick. It’s a model in the private sector that will work in our nation too.

This post is part of a weekly conversation with our 5 Moms Matter 2012 political bloggers. To see the original question and what the other bloggers have to say, read Does a Candidate's Position on Health Care Affect Your Vote?

Image via KVDP/Wikimedia

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