The other day I was out walking on a trail. I came across a large snake lying across the path. It had just eaten and was well satiated and content where it was. I just wanted it to move to gain access to where I wanted to be.
It just lay there staring at me and no matter what I did to try and get it to move it didn't budge. I ended up so scared I backed off and settled for somewhere else to walk.
Kinda reminds me of our current health care reform standoff, even though most of us are employed and covered by a plan. When it comes down to truly needing access to health care beyond the basic wellness coverage we are a bit frustrated.
We can get to doctors, but winding our way through the current health care insurance maze to get care that doesn't break our budgets is not easy.
I am personally covered by a really good plan. But still, if I need an operation or tests, the bills for our co-pays, deductibles and other expenses add up quickly. Not a budget breaker to me now, but there was a time when it would have been.
For us, even a routine trip to the eye doctor takes three visits and three co-pays each year because of insurance rules. Each screening has to be done on a different day. Why?
Even for those making enough to get by the added expenses of illness can break the bank. In a study conducted by the American Medical Association, 62 percent of bankruptcy filings in 2007 were linked to medical expenses.
An employer driven system of providing medical coverage leaves people vulnerable. If you lose your job, you are without insurance. If you or a family member end up with an existing medical condition, and you want to change jobs, you may not be able to get coverage.
For employers it becomes a major factor in what wages they can offer and how many people they can hire. Small businesses struggle the most. It isn't that they don't want to cover their employees, but when benefits take 60 percent of the chunk of money you have to cover salaries it doesn't leave much to actually pay people. Each raise given to someone with full benefits has to take this into consideration.
People choose between doctor visits and rent, prescriptions and food. It is not just the poor, but many among us who have to decide the best way to pay for the cost of health care.
So something has got to give. The "Canadian system" may not be it. Government run health care may not be it. But we have to quit letting the snake in the path scare us away from seeking a change.
Every time there is a push toward a change, the media is bombarded with information that wants us to believe that those of us with decent coverage will lose what we have, that the elderly will be cast aside, and that poor and illegal immigrants will be sitting in the waiting room chairs for the doctor you can no longer get into.
I support the efforts that our president is making to get something to budge. I do not like everything he has proposed. It is okay to slow it down a little as long as all sides really come to the table and hash out changes that will fix things.
If the for profit system can be fixed so that doctors are compensated for the gifts of health they give us and we can afford the care available, then lets find the way to get it done. But the status quo is no longer the answer. We need to quit being afraid and demand that we move the snake off the trail so we can move forward and all quit fearing that we might be the next one to lose it all over a health care crisis.