"Hey Lazarus I would love to bring you back from the dead but unfortunately you're plan is out of network." - Something Jesus never said.
-By Leah Bonnema (Stand Up Comic)
Most, if not all, of my blogs are somewhat lighthearted, splattered throughout with dick jokes and Rocky references. No matter how heavy the topic I am writing about I always try to make it comedic, as I am after all, a stand up. However this piece is a little different, a little longer and with less Gandalf references. This is about health care in the United States, a topic that has always been the proverbial dick in my, and I believe in America's, back. (I had to slip one in - just like a frat boy!) It is something I care very deeply about and so I would like to take this time to impart my belief that we as a nation are responsible for the well being of ALL our people and that that is what the health care debate is really all about.
I was incredibly happy (and mildly shocked) by the Supreme Court Ruling last Thursday upholding that the individual health insurance mandate is constitutional (not that I thought it was unconstitutional, just that often politicking prevails). I am however always incredibly shocked and more than mildly saddened at how many people are against it, people who will benefit from the plan in the long run.
I am also disheartened and so very very tired of the hypocrisy of those who front that they are champions of traditional and family values and yet do not want their neighbor to be taken care of. As a product of bible summer camp, youth group, Church on Sundays and even the bell choir (for real), it's fair to say that I am quite familiar with the teachings of Jesus. And as I recall Jesus healed sick people for free. He didn't turn his back because leprosy was a pre-existing condition. In fact I am pretty sure when asked what were his most important teachings Jesus said (and I am paraphrasing) Love G*d and Love your neighbor. These things above all else. How have those politicians who call themselves Christians strayed so very very far away from the most essential teachings that they so profess?
This is not a nuts and bolts look at The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as I believe that ObamaCare does not come down to a point by point analysis of laws. What I want to talk about and believe is at the very heart of this is what it means to want everyone to be taken care of. You either do or you do not.
I am so tired of all the hate speech being thrown back and forth between the parties, the clouding of issues with emotional language and the perversion of what laws mean. People should not have to live in fear of getting ill. All people: rich people, poor people, middle class people, students, artists, sick people, healthy people, families, individuals, democrats, republicans, should be able to afford to see a doctor.
Do we believe that insurance companies should be able to drop sick people. Yes or no?! Do we believe that people who work for themselves or are currently unemployed should have access to a cheap plan they can buy into for their basic health care needs? Yes or No? Do we believe that insurance companies should have the right to not cover people who are sick? Yes or No? Insurance companies NEED TO BE REGULATED and if regulation means socialism, communism, or whatever unrelated nonsense one wants to label ACCOUNTABILITY AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY then call me a pinko.
Health care in this country is based on a model that is built for profit. I believe health care should be about the general well being of the people. If you disagree that's fine but please check your Christianity at the door. The teachings of Christ are almost unrecognizable in the current institution of Christianity. But if you say believe in the bible this is what Jesus had to say about money: a rich man asked Jesus how he could enter the Kingdom of Heaven and Jesus replied "Sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." I understand the importance of capitalism, competition and making money, but let us not pretend it is about morality or anything G*dlike.
As an advocate for universal health care people always assume I have no coverage. They would be wrong. I actually buy into a very good health care plan. I pay more in health care fees monthly than I pay in NYC rent, which should be a sign that something is drastically wrong with the system. It would be easier for me to not declare my income and get government covered insurance but contrary to what my career choices would suggest I try to be a responsible tax paying fully covered citizen.
I am proud that I was able to find a plan that I could buy as an individual. It made me feel like a functional member of society, that my job and my needs were real. I didn't realize how important it was to have that feeling. It makes me feel less invisible. However the cost of being able to do so is such a burden that it makes buying groceries some months near impossible. I feel like I am being punished for doing what is right as insurance companies make everything so difficult, complicated and so incredibly expensive that I often want to go back to having no insurance, paying cash for services and living in constant fear of an accident.
Do I get infuriated sometimes when I break my proverbial balls to try and do what is right by paying for coverage and then see people working the system?! Of course I do. I'm not going to pretend that I haven't stood in line at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription that costs me a hefty co-pay and then the person in front of me whips out a medicaid card and gets their prescription for free when their clothes are much more expensive than mine and then they walk outside and get into a big fancy car as I walk home. I want to jump onto the hood of their vehicle yelling "You're a part of the problem! That's my money!"
I admit it, people who work the system upset me. But do those people (and when I say those people I am including people I know, college educated, middle class, just don't feel like working people) outweigh the many more people, our vets, the elderly, people who have chronic illness, people who got sick and had no other option, people who work in a town where the economy has crashed and there are really no jobs, people whose jobs do not give them health care but they took the work anyway, people who are self employed and can't find a group insurance that is anywhere near affordable, people who are single parents and are trying to make it work for their kids, people trying to crawl back up. What about them?!
And in the end it is not for me to judge (another one of Jesus's top tens - no judging - how ironic). I do not know what other people are going through and I also have a safety net. I would never end up on the streets. If I was to get really sick, went crazy (crazier) or became a junkie my family would find me and drag my behind to a hospital, take me home and nurse me back to health. We aren't loaded with money but we are loaded with loyalty, something that is worth much more.
My family would sell their house if they had to take care of me and we would all live in the streets together. I believe that many many families would do this, would do anything in their power to take care of theirs. We are extremely lucky. But there are tons of people who do not have such a luxury of people who love and care for them. Chances are if you are feeling secure in your life someone along the way has helped you, be it a solid family, access to a good education, something, do we think only we deserve that? That people who don't have backup don't deserve medical attention? I believe that we, as a country, are better than that. I believe everyone deserves a safety net, especially in a country of such wealth and boasts traditional family values.
How about this example: your child, your spouse, your best friend has finally found their dream job, an opening to the career path that they have always wanted but the job does not offer health care and they have to have insurance because they get regular migraines or take an anti-depressant or just fear not being covered. Should they not take the job then? Should health care be the be all and end all of jobs? The deal breaker.
I thought this country was based on the idea that people could be who they wanted to be?! What we have become is a society that forces people to work for the corporate machines, the only place where we can get benefits. Sorry about your dreams kid, you might get sick one day and the medical bills will destroy your life. They will cripple you so you're just going to have to do something you dislike forever and pray for retirement.
How would I feel if I had a child who was born with a disease and as a parent I knew that their entire life was going to be a struggle of finding insurance and getting covered? How would I feel if someone I loved got sick and insurance would not cover it because they already hit their maximum. What would I do if I knew there were better services out there for someone I loved but could not afford them because their insurance said no.
People are arguing that ObamaCare is too heavy a burden on the economy. We are already paying for people who are uninsured. Every time a person with no coverage goes into a hospital we all pay for it. Wouldn't it be easier (and cheaper in the long run) if people had some form of basic coverage? Maybe then they could even deal with their health issues early, before they became medical emergencies costing us much much more than a little preventative care would have. I particularly enjoyed the angry twitter feeds from people against Obamacare claiming they would move to another country when ALL THE OTHER INDUSTRIALIZED NATIONS HAVE SOME FORM OF UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE.
People are complaining, "It's a tax!" Even if it was simply a tax, so what?! I pay school tax and I don't have or even plan to have children but am happy to pay it because brighter kids means a better future for everyone. "You can't force people to have health care!" If we could all promise to never get sick or never need a doctor then I would understand this. "It's big government taking over," says the politicians whose lifestyle is paid for by that very same big government. I know a lot of people who get disability or medicare who are against the health plan and big government but they are benefiting from government money. What is going on?!
Do we drive on roads? Did we ever use a classroom? Do we prosper from living in a country where people get clean drinking water? Do we support the troops? Because that's government too. And being a part of a nation means some form of collective responsibility. Patriotism is a devotion to ones country and I believe a devotion to the people within it.
There is something VERY wrong with the power the insurance companies have. It's a complete racket that is all about money and only money. And it is a huge distraction from the actual problem at hand to turn the health care issue in this country into a catch phrase debate about being forced to eat broccoli or doctors offices becoming like the DMV (by the way if you have been to a clinic you know it's already like the DMV, but don't worry privately insured, your plans and fancy doctor offices will not change, the rabble will just get more clinics which is better than nothing). If ObamaCare is so bad then offer another solution but it cannot stay the same. At least this is a step in the right direction.
Probably I will get a slew of outraged emails as I always do whenever I write about anything with religious references; an irony I find most amusing as I'm not saying anything negative about religion and the entire point is that the philosophies behind most major religions are based in love, compassion and caring for other people. But, maybe I missed something in a translation somewhere.
In conclusion, I believe that being a great nation means collective and social responsibility. Moreover, insurance companies need to be regulated, this is not government take over. It is simply making health care CORPORATIONS accountable for their actions as they control access to our health and they are there to make money and to take money, not to care for our well being (which is a huge a conflict of interest). And finally I would like to take back the term Family Values and place it where it belongs, with those who want all Americans to have health care, education, civil rights and believe in the real meaning of Goodwill to All.
If someone feels like they worked hard for their money and their lifestyle and that people who do not have such luxuries as access to a doctor don't have them because they simply didn't try hard enough then they are of course entitled to their opinions. I very much support a difference of opinion, isn't that supposed to be the beauty of America?! But, for Heaven's Sake (literally) do not then call yourself a Christian, the Moral Majority or anything that implies that you care about anything other than YOUR people, YOUR needs and YOUR money. Take off the cross necklace, walk out of the megachurch and be honest about what is of the most importance to you: the almighty dollar.