Hillery / NY, US
When I was eleven years old my mother suffered a herniated kidney in her living room until she thought she was going to die and finally allowed my uncle to take her to the hospital. She ran her own small business on a shoestring and could not afford health insurance, but made too much money to qualify for aid. She knew if she went to the hospital it could mean bankruptcy and losing her business, so she put it off until the pain tortured and terrified her. I was utterly traumatized witnessing this and I promised myself I’d never get into a similar situation. Then, like a lot of people, I lost my job after 9/11. Eventually I couldn’t afford my COBRA premiums or the medication I needed to fight my recurring major depression, much less the therapy I needed more than ever during this crisis. I sank into a deep depression that prevented me from returning to work even once it was available again and ultimately lead to thoughts of suicide. Fortunately for me friends intervened to help me in my darkest hour. In the latest economic downturn I find myself unemployed again. I worked for a small business and they turned to firing employees instead of laying off and contesting unemployment insurance eligibility in every case in an effort to save themselves money. It takes months to get a hearing, months without benefits, months in which people cannot afford to pay their COBRA premiums through no fault of their own. So far I’ve been fortunate again and have relied on savings, but many are not so lucky. A national health care plan is the most basic safety net conceivable because before you can count on retirement or even pursue happiness, you have to maintain your health–you have to live. Any democracy should be able to protect its citizens at least as far as their health is concerned and we are a great democracy. National health care is not going to take privileges away from some to extend rights to all. There are so many wasted resources in the systems we have in place, regulation need only make things more efficient to succeed. And if you cannot bring yourself to believe my arguments, I defy you not to have learned in the last six months that you never know quite what is around the corner and you very well may be the next American in need of help from your government.