What Can Health Coverage Do For Us?

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Letter To Editor

When I was 5, I needed to have my tonsils out. At that time, we had no health coverage; few people did. In the mid-50s, there was little prepaid healthcare and most health services were non-profit. My parent was not able to pay outright for surgery on my tonsils and the required 3-day hospital stay. The money for the operation came from my grandmother and she took out a second mortgage to cover costs and took care of me as well as I healed. The cost was not onerous and even as she was retired and living on a small pension and social security, she was able to repay her loan in a reasonable amount of time as the cost was not so high that it broke the bank. Today’s costs for such a procedure is crushing if you have no healthcare coverage and can run to an average of $6500.

For a time, during my adult working life, I had no healthcare coverage for a period of about 10 years. It was a risk but one I had to take. A couple of things came up and I discovered that a previous healthcare provider would provide care to me without an employer-based policy. I would pay out of my pocket the usual charges, of course, but fortunately, it was their practice to accept past patients; how things have changed.

As I got older, I supposed that more severe health problems might come along and having health coverage would be a good idea. I became faced with a choice between a higher paying job without healthcare and a lower-paying job with healthcare. Fortunately, the job description for both were the same and offered the same sense of satisfaction. This was before the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With the ACA or Medicare for All (M4A), I could have held onto the higher paying job. I followed the prudent path rather than the path I might have chosen if there hadn’t existed the pressure of having healthcare coverage at all times. My job choices were limited because of having to choose to have employer-based health coverage or not.

What is it that Medicare for All (M4A) can really do for us?

I think there are two main parts to the answer. The complete health coverage for our body, eyes, ears and teeth is the first and most important. But there is a second huge part that we may not think of often enough. With M4A we could perhaps gain another degree of freedom in other parts of our lives. As an example, we could have the freedom to choose among more jobs that may better suit us.

Jobs that may provide the challenge in life that we seek. Jobs to which we can apply our mental qualities and physical skills.

A question long on my mind has been why with all the different jobs out there; we have such difficulty finding employment, or pursuits for that matter, that better suit us? M4A may offer a level of freedom that we might not fully appreciate, at first, and provide an answer to this question. We could perhaps find a job closer to home that eliminates commuting and gives more time for family and personal interests. We could perhaps start a business Freedom to move to a better or more gratifying job given the opportunity.

Universal healthcare or M4A would be the most obvious solution. Healthcare that follows us in and out of employment would require unity and organizing by the government at the national level.

Is the U.S. government really going to help with the idea of universal health coverage? Who is it that our government should be looking out for? The government itself, big business, or those that think they should receive all of the benefits? The vast majority of us do not fit into any of these categories and that leaves a select group that seems to get ahead while the rest of us struggle.

How much is human potential lost when people are stuck in jobs because they are afraid of losing healthcare coverage? It could be that we are trapped by economic manipulation to be bound to a job that satisfies us less but provides a benefit that should otherwise be a universal right.

We should be trying to build a healthcare system that looks out for all of us under any circumstances. How can we not recognize that this is necessary when our health is linked to everyone around us and visa-versa? This interdependent relationship is easy to see now because of the coronavirus due to its highly contagious nature and its lethality. Actually, we have had many instances of viruses being spread such as herpes, AIDS or bacteria like chlamydia. The damage done by these may not be severe over the short term but farther out in our lives; these can develop into something serious. Such illnesses require short and long-term management. Only a universal healthcare system can provide immediate attention and continuity of care to treat and perhaps eliminate persistent illnesses.

There are so many ways that comprehensive medical care can enrich the physical and mental well-being of all our citizens. One of those ways is to free us up from the constant personal struggle for health care and allow some of that energy to be invested in creative thinking and the pursuit of personal goals that we might not otherwise have time and energy for. We want a healthy people that are free to pursue their dreams.

On an unrelated issue. I would like to thank the local school boards for having the wisdom to go entirely online for the education of our children. My granddaughter is in the TK program at Harmony elementary. She is in her second week. The instruction is excellent and the mode of instruction using an all virtual classroom is working. It does require some attention by an adult during class but it is manageable.

We recognize that in-person instruction is optimal, but as her loving family, we are grateful that her health is being protected. Online instruction will do for now.

-Chris Hofeditz

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