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The Secret To Health: Stop Being Sick

By Jesse Taylor
Tuesday, April 21, 2009 22:31 EDT
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Sonny Bunch rather elegantly (if unintentionally) demonstrates the case for universal health care:

But certain things about the health care debate drive me absolutely nuts, like the self-entitlement you encounter day in and day out when you pay attention to the issue. Take this guy, for example. Allow me to summarize: He’s attending a top tier law school, so he doesn’t have a job and can’t afford to pick any health insurance up. He also has asthma. Which leads to this relatively stunning paragraph:

I cannot get my proper medication and have to rely on a friend who’s mother is a pharmacist to steal sample sized daily inhalers for me. Not only is this embarrassing and unreliable, it costs all of you who do have insurance money. I have no choice.

“I have no choice.” Wow. There is a stunning lack of self-awareness in that thought. So what you’re telling me is that you decided to attend a law school that you knew you couldn’t afford while simultaneously paying for health insurance even though you had a relatively serious health impairment that you need to get medication for? I’m sorry, dude: You made your choice. Maybe you made it poorly, but you made a choice. I have no pity whatsoever for this guy.

Here’s the problem with virtually any effort made to better yourself – it involves risk. Law school in particular usually involves very tight mandated budgets, lots of loans and very little room for financial error unless you or your family is independently wealthy. (Incidentally, the student in this case has two retired parents on fixed incomes.) I’m in law school myself, and the recommended school health insurance is expensive and awful; a better plan is simply unaffordable.

It makes little sense to say that you should have to be controlled by a medical problem and stay stuck in a job (if you have one) with suitable health insurance until you have the financial means to independently provide for any health opportunity that comes up. Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL, is financially decimated after her daughter was paralyzed, her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and subsequently broke his femur. The standard articulated above creates a soft form of social eugenics, where only the hale, monied and hearty should do things which might require risk; if you dare enter this world infirm or do anything which could make you so, well, sucks to be you.

This story is also instructive – a family with two working parents, one an entrepreneur, now without the income to ensure health insurance for their son, who had testicular cancer and still needs expensive monitoring. They did everything they were supposed to do, and are now scrambling to find insurance that will prevent their son from falling into the black hole of preexisting conditions. They did everything right, and yet everything they did and will do is fraught with peril; where is there safe haven where they no longer have to worry about scorn from choosing a path they “knew” they shouldn’t have gone down?

And this is the fundamental problem with the American health insurance system: there is no security. If you have a health condition, there may be any number of things you can’t do while affording health insurance or medical care – for instance, eat, or have reliable shelter. In 2009, to say that you shouldn’t do something without secure, affordable health insurance is to often say that you shouldn’t do anything at all.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
 
 
 
 
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