Healthcare for ALL

The abysmal American health care system was in my face yesterday at the store where I work and I am more sickened than ever.

One of my co-workers fainted and fell to the floor. Though it has been many years since I worked in the medical field, I was, at one time, an oral surgical nurse, so I offered to help. I suggested the usual…keep her head still…don’t move her…as I answered questions asked by the 911 operator.

While I was on the phone the “patient” began crying hysterically, saying she didn’t want anyone to come. Why? She has no health insurance. When she needed help and was clearly ill, her first concern was that of no coverage and the prospect of looming medical bills; quite scary for an hourly wage earner.

It’s not that my company doesn’t offer health insurance; they do. But this woman, who works harder than anyone else in the store, doesn’t work the 32 hours required for coverage. And it’s not that she doesn’t want to work, it’s that there are not enough labor dollars to schedule her for more.

bandaged pig and crutches

Are you covered for the unexpected?

In this economy she’s fortunate to have a job, but I doubt she was so grateful yesterday when all she could think about through her fog, was that she didn’t have money or insurance to help her when she needed medical assistance.

People who shop at my store would put it into the category of “health food store.” We sell a good amount of organic products like produce, coffee, peanut butter, and meat, and there is a large vitamin and body care section. People would think that everyone who works there is healthy and has the peace of mind of medical insurance should they need it one day. People would be wrong. Most of the employees are not covered for the same reason as the woman who fell yesterday…not enough labor dollars to go around.

With labor dollars in short supply, health coverage lags behind and everyone suffers. In recent years the average employee health insurance premium has risen nearly eight times faster than income. The problem is that the health care program being discussed today will build on the current, and antiquated system, leaving my co-worker, and millions like her, with no insurance.

According to statistics from AARP, “Americans spend more on health care every year than we do educating our children, building roads, even feeding ourselves—an estimated $2.6 trillion in 2009, or around $8,300 per person. Forty-five million Americans (like my co-worker) have no health insurance whatsoever.”

It is my opinion that ALL Americans deserve to be covered, and I believe they should be covered through a single-payer system similar to Medicare or the health program offered to federal-government employees. And know this – many of the people fighting against health coverage for you are the members of Congress and the Senate YOU voted into office, and whose coverage will last their lifetime.

Who pays for that? Yep…WE do!

As I drove home last night, I, a very non-religious person, thought of a verse from Leviticus 19:18 – “…love they neighbor as thyself.”

I KNOW that passing a bill giving healthcare to ALL Americans is the right thing to do, and if my taxes increase a few dollars, so be it!