There are many reasons why I believe that we should switch to a single-payer health care system. It would be a lot easier for me to see a doctor here in Ohio, since I’m about 500 miles outside my insurance’s coverage area.
The litany of drugs a good friend is on would be much cheaper. And the millions of Americans who skip routine physicals every year would finally be able to get the health care they need and deserve.
But ultimately, I think that this debate boils down to basic human kindness. I do not comprehend how someone can sit back and watch as people die for want of a pap smear or a prostate exam or a trip to the emergency room, and then argue that fixing that would cut into their profit margins.
I’m not a religious person, but I do believe to sit idly by while a fellow person suffers, knowing that there’s a way to end it, is cruel. And to sit idly by because acting would hurt your bottom line? That’s simply unforgivable.
Medicine these days is light-years ahead of where it was even 50 years ago. Today, we can manage HIV to the point that those infected can live for decades, whereas even 25 years ago, to be HIV positive was to have a death sentence. We can screen for diseases like prostate and breast cancer, and we have shots that prevent diseases like HPV, polio, and tuberculosis. And yet all of this is completely unattainable for the almost 50 million Americans, according to the CDC, who don’t have health insurance.
I’ve heard the argument that the founding fathers said nothing about health insurance or health care, and therefore they could not have wanted us to have universal health care. Well, that’s ridiculous, isn’t it? There are plenty of things that are vital to modern life that the founding fathers not only didn’t discuss, but couldn’t possibly have imagined. Cars and interstates, radio and television, computers and the Internet, even women wearing pants. To say that because the founding fathers didn’t mention it, so they would obviously be against it is to put words in the mouths of some of the wisest and most influential people in our country’s history.
Look, I’m not saying the government should have control over our health care decisions. I’d really prefer if the government didn’t know anything about my body or my health, thank you very much. But I do believe in order to survive, to thrive and to be able to pursue the American dream in the 21st century, people need to have access to basic health care.
To deny anyone access to a yearly physical, or to see people enter bankruptcy just to pay medical bills for life-saving procedures, to see people choose between their lives and their money, is to deny them the right to life and the right to pursue happiness, and I cannot see how any of the Founding Fathers would have been in favor of that.