Amy of Sharp Little Pencil, who, like me, grew up in Broome County, NY, writes:
So Roger, do a piece on health care if you haven’t already, please. My post cited numerous reasons why Americans DON’T want it (as George Harrison would sing, “I, Me, Mine,” also the fear struck in their hearts. Could not believe how many FOX talking points turned up on my blog!! Let me hear about it soon! Love your blog and you, Rog. Peace, Amy
Here’s the problem, Amy. I don’t know how to speak of it in any better terms than others have. The fact that catastrophic illness and injury has contributed to most personal bankruptcies. The fact that preventative care will lower costs over time and provide a healthier population to boot. The fact that a larger pool of consumers, historically, has lowered the costs of goods and services. But these anyone can tout.
For me, though, it’s always been about that same Harrison song you quote. And I have told the story before, back in 2009, but I’ll tell it again.
Two days before I was going to graduate school, for the first time, in 1979, that disastrous foray into the School of Public Administration at UAlbany, I was at a friend’s house and somehow got an infection under my toenail. You have NO idea how much this hurt. We are talking root canal level of pain, and I’ve had root canal.
I had no health insurance, for I had, I would have gone to a doctor. Or probably the emergency room, because, now that I think of it, I didn’t HAVE a doctor, because I didn’t have insurance, so I didn’t see the point of having a doctor. But I WOULD have insurance in a couple days. So I hobbled through college registration, feeling worse by the minute; if I had had a walker or wheelchair, or pain medication stronger than Tylenol, or whiskey, I would have used it. Only then did I go to the college infirmary.
By this point, the infection was going up my leg; if it had reached my heart, I almost certainly would have DIED, at the age of 26. And that would be a REALLY embarrassing thing to put in an obit; “died of a toe infection.” As it was, I spent the next six days – the first six days of the semester – in bed.
So NOT having insurance altered my behavior that might well have been fatal. I’m sure that if this is true of me, it’s true of millions of others who go untreated for illnesses and injuries until it’s a crisis. Yeah, I think health care is a right, not a privilege. Yeah, my own narrative has colored my outlook about this, but is that not usually the case?
I’ve been painfully aware of every MINUTE I’ve been uninsured since, from November 1988, when I left FantaCo, to March 1989, when I got covered by Blue Cross; from April to September 1990, after I left Blue Cross, before I went to library school; and from May to October 1992, the period between library school and my current job. I was always aware that any accident or sustained illness would do me in financially. You KNOW stress is a contributing factor to poor health, and I was stressed a lot in those uninsured periods.
I don’t understand the opposition to the new healthcare law using terms like “freedom.” Being uninsured is more like a prison.
Oh, and I love you too, Amy. Gotta love someone who knows and loves pirogi!