We need health care, pure and simple. Here's what it should look like

medicare_for_all_rally.jpgThe Covid-19 pandemic clearly shows why the U.S. needs a health care system that gives every resident access to health care at every stage of life.  A system that relies primarily on employer-provided medical insurance is inadequate.  Even unemployed people need affordable health care.  This nation needs a system that offers health care for all, all the time.

Have your say about this Thursday evening June 25 at 5:30 in our statewide call to create a Health Care Task Force. Please join us for a timely conversation about health and racial justice.   RSVP for the virtual meeting here.  



 

/By Susan Nerlinger/ The Covid-19 pandemic shows us why America needs a system that provides affordable health care to all Americans all the time.  People need access to health care when their health demands it, not only when they are employed.  Some of us are perhaps fortunate enough never to experience unemployment and to have employers who provide us with coverage.  Many Americans, however, are not so lucky.

healthcare_not_wealthcare.jpgRight now 40 million Americans have just lost their jobs through no fault of their own.  If they had health insurance before, they do not have it now.  Their need for health care has not disappeared.  It remains the same.  If they have the misfortune of becoming infected with Covid-19 and require two or more weeks of hospitalization, who will pay?  An unemployed person probably won’t have the funds to cover a bill that could total tens of thousands of dollars.  It could bring them to financial ruin.  Are any politicians talking about this problem?  Are they going to allow tens of thousands of Americans to be driven to bankruptcy by illness?  Sadly many politicians seem content to do just that.

COBRA (The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) allows workers who lose employer-provided health insurance to maintain coverage even after losing their job.  But that does not fill the gap.  Premiums for health insurance are costly; the last thing a person needs when unemployed and without a paycheck is to pay expensive premiums for health insurance. They need to pay the rent and put food on the table.  And they need continuing access to health care too.

We need a system that gives people affordable access to health care consistently throughout their lives. Every American needs healthcare when they are students, or between jobs, when their incomes are low or high, when they are sick, or well and need only routine check-ups.  This should be obvious, but for some reason it has escaped the notice of many Americans.  Maybe this pandemic will open some eyes.

I lived in a European nation that had a national health care system and this is how it worked.  When you were sick, you went to your neighborhood clinic and saw a doctor who gave you the medical care you needed.  Period.  I never saw a piece of paper, other than a prescription – none of those 10-page “Explanation of Benefits,” which explain nothing.  There were no hefty manuals about your insurance and what it provided and what it did not.  You knew that your doctor would give you the care your illness demanded.  Your right to care could not run out; you could not lose it. No letters from nameless bureaucrats in undisclosed locations could inform you that coverage was being denied.  You just got the care you needed.  Period.  If that nation could do it, why can’t the United States of America?


 Susan Nerlinger is a retired teacher and political activist whose special interests are health care for all, environmental issues and economic justice.



Have your say about this Thursday evening June 25 at 5:30 in our statewide call to create a Health Care Task Force. Please join us for a timely conversation about health and racial justice.   RSVP for the virtual meeting here.