This morning in my email there was a notice that a subscriber to my blog has unsubscribed. This is always a sad thing for a blogger to lose a reader. Broke my heart a little to thing that someone in this big old world doesn’t think I’m worth reading anymore. But, then I saw the reason, which was Content no longer relevant and I had to chuckle a little. The reader’s email ended in au, which I think stands for Australia and considering all I’ve been writing about lately has been the health care debate in America, I can see his or her point.
Anyway, this set to me thinking about health care. I’ve seen some articles and comments on blogs where people are complaining about the protesters outside of the townhall meetings held by various members of the government and I think they’re dead wrong. It’s okay to protest. It’s okay to disagree with our government. It’s okay to disagree with each other. The very thought of making changes to our health care system scares the hell out of a lot of people. I don’t blame them — it scares the hell out of me, too. I can understand how someone doesn’t want the status quo to change — especially if they have company provided health care. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want change. It’s a “I’ve got mine, the hell with you” attitude. And, I can understand it, because I feel that way, too. I have to be honest here. I don’t want my health insurance benefits taxed. I don’t think that’s fair. I’ve come too far to have to pay taxes on something I’ve earned.
And, that has led me to thing about this…
In 1994, I earned – roughly – $16,000. I didn’t have health care. I didn’t see doctors for routine medical care. I was involved in a car accident that year where I hurt my back and bruised a kidney. It wasn’t my fault. The other driver turned left in front of me and although I tried to avoid her, first by changing lanes when I thought she had stopped turning and then by slamming on my brakes, I slammed into the side of her Ford Escort in my Dodge Dakota Truck at 30 miles an hour. Up to that point in my life, it was the scariest thing to ever happen to me while I was behind the wheel of my truck.
I had no health care insurance. I supported myself and, despite doctor’s orders to the contrary, I returned to work the following day. I didn’t sue her and, since I felt I had to take care of myself and no one could help, I didn’t even ride to the hospital in an ambulance — like I should’ve. If my insurance agent, a man named Marty, hadn’t told me I was covered, I wouldn’t have gone to the hospital at all. I had so little money back then, I couldn’t afford to fill the pain prescription I was given. Good thing I have a high tolerance for pain.
Now, I don’t tell you all of this to have you feel sorry for me, because you shouldn’t. My kidney healed and my back is strong. My truck managed to run for another seven years until the engine blew and it is fifteen years later and I make almost four times as much as I did that year. And, I have health insurance. If that same accident happened again today, I would ride to the hospital in an ambulance and, more importantly, I would listen to my doctor. I have disability insurance, both personal and via work, so I wouldn’t worry about not being able to pay my bills.
And — this is important — I feel lucky. That’s right, lucky. I’ve put in years of hard work and study to become the person I am today. I worked full time and went to school part time. I busted my butt to graduate and I work hard at my profession to be the best I can be. And, I’m lucky. I’m lucky because when it was too hard and I wanted to quit, Cheryl would drag me kicking and screaming to my homework. And, she did all the housework, so I could study. (Truth be told, she still does most of the housework.) And, when I would cry at night that this was just too hard and I wasn’t smart enough or good enough to see it through, she would hold me and tell me I was. She was a big pain in my ass when I needed a swift kick to my ass and she was a soft shoulder on which to cry when I just needed a place to fall. And, I couldn’t have gone from the living over a bar from paycheck to paycheck to owning a home and installing new kitchen and bathroom floors if I hadn’t had her pushing me.
And, I know that I am blessed.
And, then I think, there’s a lot of 28 year olds out there who don’t have a Cheryl in their lives. For that matter, there are a lot of people who don’t have anyone pushing and fighting for them. They just go to work and do the best they can do and they are who I used to be. They have just enough to get by and they can’t see past next week, because they can’t afford to dream. They clean our waste baskets, they ring us out at the grocery store, they wash our car and they bring us our dinner whenever we eat out. They’re the 47 million Americans who can’t afford health insurance. And, then I think how lucky I am that I never caught a disease I couldn’t pay for. Never needed medicine where I would have to make a choice between the medicine or eating. (Once, when I was uninsured, my asthma medicine cost $75.00 for a one month supply. That was nearly a quarter of one of my paychecks and a huge chunk of take home pay. If I hadn’t had Cheryl, I might’ve forgone the medicine.)
And, I think about those people and how lucky I am I’m not one of them – for by the Grace of God go I – and I realize, we do need to make some changes and we’re all going to have to sacrifice a little for the good of everyone.