Universal Insurance Coverage Needed

Dying Needlessly

There are over 48 million Americans who suffer without health care in this nation every year. Many are hard working people who spend their lives praying they and their loved ones will not fall ill. One survey states that 18,000 Americans die annually for lack of proper health insurance as they put off care until it is too late. Of course, it is easy to wave off numbers. People in general aren't impressed by figures as they have little to no emotional impact. I'm not finding fault here, trust me, I'm just stating a fact.

So, let me tell you a story instead. I lost a friend last year, a friend I'd had since childhood, and I lost him to a senselessless death. You see, my friend had worked in the banking industry. As his bank was impacted by the recession, my friend (who will remain nameless to respect his memory and his family's privacy) was laid off. A year went by, a year filled with part time work, job hunting, and stress. We called regularly and talked over many issues. The increasing worry over his unemployment was weighing heavily upon him.

Then it happened. I started hearing him cough during our phone conversations. It was a mild thing at first. But, as time passed, it developed into a wracking cough. I pushed him to go to the doctors office or the emergency room or a free clinic. He countered he didn't have the funds and it would clear up in time. Being a person of strong conservative values (he was my mirror opposite in this and we enjoyed the tension between us and batting issues back and forth in a point/counterpoint fashion) immersed in the conservative talk shows he was reticent to go to a clinic or seek out the emergency room. What he didn't know was that he had bronchitis. This is not a disease that will let go without medical attention. For lack of proper health care, which was tied directly into his work, my friend was reduced to living a nineteenth century existance before the age of strong antibiotics. It took a terrible toll.

Then came the week the phone calls stopped. My phone call and email went unanswered. I hoped he was away, perhaps seeing family. As he lived alone, I could not reach him. A week after that, I received a call from his sister. After a week without one of his regular calls, his family had sent for the police. They had entered his house to find him dead among his beloved animals. My friend, her brother, was dead. He had died the week before of a massive heart attack brought on by his unchecked illness. He had died alone. It pains me to recall this and it angers me. My friend, a good and honest man, was killed indirectly by a society that does not value all its members, a society and policies that place cold economics over living, breathing human beings. It has to stop. It is nothing short of obscene that the richest nation in the world does not protect all its members, particularly its most vulnerable.

I know all the arguments against covering everyone and frankly I no longer care. Needless death has taken a life-long friend. The abstract numbers have become cold, harsh reality for me. It has to stop. If you have suffered similar losses, do not remain silent at this time when health care for everyone is being discussed and debated in Congress. Speak out for the sakes of those who can no longer speak for themselves. Speak for the dead and for those who suffer without coverage today and may be gone tomorrow. Demand equal justice for all ... in this case equal coverage for all. It's the civilized thing to do.

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James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

What survey exactly says 18,000 Americans die because they don't have insurance?

Your friend chose not to go to the emergency room—because he watches FOX news?! That's nuts! So, our nation killed him because he refused free medical care? That makes no logical sense.

I know poor folks who go the emergency room every time they get a cold. They do not turn anyone away—not even Illegal aliens.

There is not right to health insurance, nor is it a matter of justice. It is a matter of refusing free medical care—as many do.

J.S. Brooks profile image

J.S. Brooks 7 years ago Author

I won't argue with you James. The stats are out there. The loss is still bitter. This is not some idle matter. I know others who struggle with depression because they do not have coverage allowing them access to the help they need. Still more put off dental, eye, and hearing care for the same reason. I will not bandy about idle words on this subject. People die in this nation for lack of health care and frankly that is obscene. It is long past time this ended.

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