I spent some time contemplating if I was going to write this article. While I saw the value in the message, I also felt like I might be exploiting a bad time in a friend’s life just to tell this story. Ultimately, I chose to go ahead and write this because I felt this event served as a perfect example of blind ideological ignorance and propaganda meeting undeniable reality. Furthermore, I’m not going to include any sort of personal information, so I didn’t see much harm in sharing what happened.
To provide a little context and background, my friend is a Trump supporter and staunch Republican, therefore that also means she’s extremely anti-Obamacare. While it’s been a while — several years, in fact — we’ve actually had a few debates over the Affordable Care Act and universal health care vs. the for-profit model she seems to favor.
Well, the other night I noticed several posts from her popping up on Facebook where she was quite upset over the treatment her son was receiving at their local emergency room. Without getting into too much detail about what issues her son was dealing with, for the purpose of this article all anyone really needs to know is that he’s in his 20’s, was in a lot of pain (to the point of tears apparently), and the local ER they went to wasn’t admitting him as quickly as my friend felt they should have.
After several posts, I asked what was wrong and why, if her son was in such pain, didn’t they call an ambulance?
Eventually I received an answer:
He hadn’t been feeling well for a week or so, but since he doesn’t have health insurance, he was hoping it would pass. We figured when we took him in here it would be easier than calling an ambulance and paying God knows how much money to drive him a few miles.
Long story short, after a few hours, they eventually admitted him and all is well. Thankfully it was nothing too serious and he should be better in a few days.
Even though this was a perfect example as to why we need to join the rest of the modern world in passing universal health care, obviously I wasn’t going to debate that too much for the time being with my friend while she was dealing with a difficult time.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean I can’t use her situation in this article to showcase how foolish it is for anyone to oppose a single-payer health care system.
Here was my friend whose son was sick, yet he couldn’t go to the doctor when he first started feeling ill because he didn’t have insurance nor the money to pay a doctor out-of-pocket. Which means his issue, as many illnesses do when they go untreated, got much worse. Eventually things got so bad that he needed to go to a hospital for treatment, but they didn’t want to call an ambulance, which would have gotten him treatment much sooner, because the cost (especially without any form of health insurance) would have been extremely high.
Without knowing the full extent of everything they used to diagnose and treat him, I think it’s safe to assume he’s going to be charged at least a few thousands dollars for this ER visit. That’s out-of-pocket money he wouldn’t have to pay if the United States had a health care system like nearly every other major country on Earth.
Furthermore, he would have never needed to go to the emergency room to begin with, suffering in writhing pain, if he had the means to schedule a doctor’s appointment. Instead, like millions of Americans, he was forced to deal with this health condition until he could no longer take it, eventually landing himself in an emergency room with a medical problem that was made much worse, and more expensive to treat, due to his lack of health insurance.
While my friend’s son’s story turned out relatively well, at least as far as nothing seriously being wrong with his health, millions of people all across this country aren’t so lucky. They suffer with chronic issues that go untreated due to a lack of health insurance. Many die at relatively young ages because they went years lacking the preventative care that could have not only provided them with a better quality of life, but it could have allowed them to live much longer. Others are crippled with medical bills that they can’t afford after being struck with a catastrophic illness or medical emergency.
What my friend experienced firsthand with her son’s situation, whether or not she’ll ever admit it, are the massive flaws with the health care system she thinks we should have. She witnessed her son spend days suffering with an illness that was easily treatable, not because he was too stubborn to go to the doctor, but because he lacked health insurance. Eventually this easy-to-treat medical situation landed him in the emergency room where he’ll now be saddled with thousands of dollars of debt for the treatment he received. This is suffering and debt her son would have never had to experience if the United States followed the example set by nearly every major country on Earth by establishing health care as a right which every American should have — not a privilege for only those who can afford it.
While it’s unlikely this experience will change my friend’s mindset (knowing her she’ll blame Obamacare for the cost of health care premiums — yes, she’s that person), whether or not she wants to believe in the reality of what she experienced is moot. The bottom line is, what her and her son dealt with the other night is a prime example as to why for-profit health care doesn’t work and why nearly every other major country on Earth has some form of universal health care.
A person’s ability to live a better, longer life with proper medical care and advice shouldn’t be determined by whether or not they can afford it.