Despite the forward momentum toward health care reform, opposition to the idea is still strong.
Recently, I heard a commentator say that if you believe in health care for all, you are a socialist.
According to the Merriam-Webster Oline dictionary, socialism is defined as:
1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2 a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done
Does providing affordable and accessible health care make us a socialist country? Those who do not believe that health care is something that American citizens should rightfully expect have a tendency to label that concept as un-American and socialist, that it smacks of government control. Those people usually have good insurance and a reasonable expectation of accessible health care.
Not so long ago I was also concerned about government getting overly involved in health care, but that was before I found myself in a front row seat of a runaway train. I thought there were more safeguards. I didn’t know how hard that train could hit.
Five years ago, my education came hard and fast. A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and a job loss forced me out of group insurance. After exhausting the COBRA period, something many folks simply cannot afford to do, I braved the individual insurance market.
There are tons of articles on how to shop for individual insurance and save, but if you have a pre-existing condition, be prepared for outright rejection, outrageous premiums, and co-pays and deductibles that will make your eyes pop. And if you happen to need a “tier 4″ medication, you’d better make sure your seat belt is fastened. It’s going to be a very bumpy ride.
You may find yourself with only one policy offered — take it or leave it. Imagine a world in which you shell out more for your health care each month than for your mortgage, yet you fear actually using it.
Millions of Americans are un-insured, and millions more are under-insured. Hard workers and taxpayers, they are in this position through no fault of their own. How can we turn our backs on this? And if we can turn our backs, we must then understand that we, too, are susceptible to the same fate. The “it won’t happen to me” theory doesn’t serve us well.
If our government can step in and make adjustments that provide affordable and accessible health care for all, I’m in favor. Call it socialism or label it un-American if you must. But to punish people for losing group insurance, or to sentence the sick to that speeding locomotive, is as un-American as it gets.