Recently the supreme court ruling has upheld Obamacare and the controversial individual mandate as constitutional. Many of the comments I have seen expose how readily many people (on all sides) are willing and eager to swallow extremist views and paint this decision as either the a) end of democracy as we descend into a police state or b) the arrival of a utopia.
Reactions to Obamacare aside, I thought it would be a good time to write about why I am totally for complete socialized healthcare…
When I was eight I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a form of juvenile arthritis. I have been on pain medication ever since then. Currently I am on on Humira, an expensive but effective injection I take every two weeks.
When I was ten or so I began having bouts of uveitis, a related condition that involves inflammation in my eye. This inflammation normally responds to eye medication but the progress of this treatment has to be monitored by a doctor every couple of weeks.
When I was twenty two I had a bout of uveitis that for whatever reason did not respond well to medication and the result was that I ended up with glaucoma. After many failed attempts at treating this glaucoma, I eventually had to have a surgery at the age of twenty three that is usually done on senior citizens. It cost me a fair amount of my vision in my left eye and I was told I would certainly have to have additional surgeries later, most likely within five years, to treat the glaucoma or fix the cateracts that resulted from this treatment.
I am now twenty seven. I am about to lose my health insurance because I am about to graduate from my masters program. I am too old to be insured on my parents plan. Full-time jobs are scarce and I will most likely have to work part-time jobs outside of my field to make ends meet. Because of the economy, even this is not guaranteed.
Very soon I will most likely be uninsured. This means not being able to pay for my arthritis medicine and dealing with chronic pain. This means not being able to pay for my eye medication if another bout of uveitis strikes. This means being handed a massive bill if the eye surgery I am about due for comes up. (The last one cost $16,000) This also means a gap in my coverage which for-profit health insurance companies love because this means they can deny me coverage. As if a lack of coverage somehow caused my conditions and I choose this lack of coverage on purpose out of irresponsibility or negligence.
The last time I was in a similar situation in 2009 I had to pay $400 a month for health insurance as a young male. This is an absurd rate that was higher than my rent at the time, and it was justified because of my preexisting conditions. None of these conditions have been a “lifestyle” decision caused by smoking, drinking, a lack of exercise, diet or anything like that.
Unlike many in the U.S. I have actually been on socialized health insurance. I lived in Canada for four years while I was in college and paid to participate in their health insurance. If I recall correctly this directly cost me $600-800 for the year to enroll as a student.
If I were facing the exact same challenges and health problems I do now, but was covered by a sensible socialized healthcare policy my situation would be very different. I would have a lot less anxiety about the future and would be far more willing to take risks, including financial ones. I would not be penalized for being sick through no fault of my own. I would be much more free to accept work and pursue what was more meaningful to me if I did not have to worry about if it provided health insurance. I might not have more money, because I would have to pay for my health insurance through taxes, but I would rather do this than get gouged through private medical insurance.
Now socialized healthcare is not a perfect system. It has its faults. It is not free. It can take longer to get seen because more people are using health services. There is no silver bullet solution to all of our healthcare problems, and every system has pros and cons. However, having experienced both I would suggest the current healthcare system in the U.S. is ridiculous and it would be much better for our country as a whole to go to socialized health-care.
P.S. In reality, the best situation is probably a hybrid system of allowing for socialized medicine and private health-care to co-exist. Such a system already exists in Australia. This would allow for the best (and worst) of both world.