I have been living without health insurance for 2 1/2 years. This is not bait for sympathy, nor do I feel underprivileged. Early in 2007 I was accepted to graduate school here in Chicago. I decided to leave my career of five years, cash in my 401k, move away from Minnesota and make a life change. I knew it was going to be tough to manage making rent, tuition, buying groceries and paying the usual adult bills I had accumulated – credit cards, phone/internet, electric, etc. Luckily I did quality for some student loans and managed to juggle a couple part time jobs along the way. My fiance also sold his Harley, which helped A LOT. I feel extremely privileged and accomplished having completed my MA in two years, as it had been a lifelong goal.
To put it simply, I couldn’t afford the $300/mo single adult, full time student health coverage (and I shopped around). I made the choice to purchase groceries and transportation instead of health care. It was a conscious choice I made to live more comfortably and pay out of pocket for my annual doctor’s exam and birth control. Luckily I have not experienced any major illnesses or accidents (knock on wood).
But does it really have to be like this? Do people really have to make the choice between putting food on the table and visiting the doctor? This is the reality for me and 46 million Americans. That’s 15 percent of the U.S. population. In my opinion, this is sad, and above all, irresponsible – especially if we want to continue being the richest, most productive cutting edge nation in the world.
NPR put together an amazing piece profiling who an uninsured person is in America. Much of the statistical data comes a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit, nonpartisan health policy research organization. It says 40 percent of the uninsured are between the ages of 19 and 29. I just turned 30.
Since graduating in May I have been on the job hunt. I’m currently in a temporary full time position with a publication I’ve held a part time job with for about one year. However, my position is only guaranteed through the end of 2009. And because I’m temporary they do not offer me health insurance. I still cannot afford to buy it on my own.
Here are the facts:
– I have literally held a job (full time or part time… (for five years both a full time and part time job)) since I was 15 years old.
– I have contributed my fair share of taxes (currently living in the highest taxed city in the nation).
– Breast cancer runs in my family.
– I’d love to have children in someday soon.
– I come from a stable middle-class family.
– I have pursued efforts to better myself and the world around me.
– I hold a master’s degree.
– I am 30 years old.
– I do not have health insurance.
One of the arguments waged against a public option health care plan is that health care is not a constitutional right, as free speech (my favorite) or bearing arms. To that argument, let me ask this: Is education a constitutional right? Or should be close all public schools? What about police and fire departments? Maybe we could close those too? Doesn’t the lead of the Constitution speak directly to this topic?
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Such opponents wouldn’t dare argue with providing for the common defense… by why is promoting the general welfare so controversial, or unresolved in people’s minds? Health care is a necessary tool, key for modern day survival.
There are those in the world who do not see the ties that bind us all together. We are standing at a crossroads. Do we continue with the status quo, or do we take a leap and try something that may improve the quality of life for millions? In policy, there always needs to be compromise. Take a look at the options on the table. There is a fear that public health care could mean fewer dollars for medial technology. But what good is having the best technology in the world when it is inaccessible to those who need it?
Let’s step away from political leanings and just think about the morals of this situation. How could anyone tell a young person, a poor person or someone recently laid off that they do not have the right to access health care? This is the United States! How can someone like that live with themselves? How long are we going to let the greedy drug companies and insurance companies rule our lives? This quite literally defines our future. Which side of history do you want to be on?