March 22, 2010

Health care reform brings a price tag worth paying

Print More

It’s historic. And it’s over.

What’s amazing is that it took so much vitriol. But change always does. Especially social change.

I need look no farther than my own extended family, where two members with a recent history of cancer, unlikely to ever get insured on their own dime without health care reform because of those pre-existing conditions, vehemently opposed the idea of health care reform. Somehow, they had been persuaded by the right that  it was in their interests to be against the very idea of reforming the health insurance system, ignoring the fact that the health care lobby fought hard and donated big to preserve the status quo.

That’s a position understandable for those safely ensconced in the shelter of a larger corporation who can count on not losing their jobs (whoever they are), or for those on the public payroll who can count on not losing their jobs (another pretty small group, I would think) , but one of these family members was recently laid off, and the other is unable to work and uninsured because of his illness. Yet the ire and bile of the fight was so extreme that they were unable to see their own benefit in health care reform. Instead, they see health care reform as a move toward socialism, as un-American. Even though implementation of health care reform offered direct benefit to both of them, they vehemently opposed it. Many of those in support of health care reform perhaps failed to appreciate the depth of that opposition.

Of course, most of those protesting health care reform had health care coverage. They were the easy ones for the right to fire up. Many of those interviewed at anti-reform rallies were on Medicare (a government plan) or were well-covered by their employer, as are most Americans.

But the legislation is directed at the 32 million Americans who either can’t afford the rising cost of premiums or who have been categorized by insurance companies as too sick to be insured – those pre-existing conditions again. And eventually, we’ll all be too sick to be insured, and we could only hope that under the system that Congress voted to overhaul Sunday night we’d qualify for Medicare (government-run health care) by the time our insurance companies ran us out.

Many of those 32 million folks didn’t have the resources or the energy to show up at rallies and march and wave signs. But they will benefit, and we all will benefit. They won’t drain expensive care from emergency rooms, and they won’t die needlessly, as an estimated 45,000 Americans do every year now because of lack of insurance coverage.

Yes, there’s a price tag to health care reform. But yes, there was a price tag to a system that priced out the sick and unemployed. Congress faced up to that cost. Time to move on and acknowledge that those of use who can comfortably count on health benefits have no right to fear monger death panels or socialized medicine.

One thought on “Health care reform brings a price tag worth paying

  1. Nice article. I had never heard that 45,000 of needless deaths figure before. It’s interesting, less than 4000 Americans have died because of terrorists attacks on American soil, but people have no problem spending the large bulk of tax money on chasing after people who maybe had something to do with that. But 45,000 people a year can perish and many Americans think that that’s ok.

    Perhaps the biggest lesson learned regards the complete failure of our education system that trains people to be so daft.