It’s funny how thinking about the achievement of man’s walking on the moon 40 years ago puts almost everything else into a different perspective.
Such as why, for example, we still cannot ensure that every single person in this country has access to adequate health care.
Granted this is in a larger category of experience, for instance, than your mom saying to you, “If we can put a man on the moon…why can’t you clean up your room?” Or saying to your significant other, “If we can put a man on the moon…how come you mess up the checkbook every month?”
On the other hand, health care matters a lot more than whether you’re a slob or are driven crazy by someone who can’t add and subtract.
So, how is it, then, that in the 40 years since Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind,” the number of uninsured in this country has grown inexorably larger year after year?
Defenders of the status quo will simply ignore the question and start ranting about how we have the best health care in the entire world and any move to seriously reform it is a step on the dreaded path to “socialized medicine.”
Now, I won’t argue that the quality of health care in this country is good, even very good. The problem is that that’s not true for everyone and it is definitely not true for anyone who does not have coverage.
One question that never seems to get asked is whether we, as a people, would rather have the most superlative health care for some of the population or good basic coverage for the entire population.
I recently had the occasion to call a specialist for an appointment. I’d done my homework, which essentially meant finding out the answer to the all-important question: was the doctor in my network?
When I called his office and said I’d like to make an appointment, the very first question his receptionist posed to me was: what insurance do you have? Not my name or even, heaven forbid, what the problem was. No, what insurance did I have?
And if I didn’t have insurance? I shudder to think.
I’ve also experienced several wrenchings of the so-called doctor-patient relationship because the company changed health plans and my doctor was out of network, making it prohibitively expensive to continue that relationship.
I’ve also encountered instances where a long-standing practice of one spouse being covered by the other’s health plan was jettisoned due to the second spouse’s having the option of being covered by their own employer. The result? Two spouses covered by two different health plans with two different networks of doctors and hospitals.
And these are problems for people who have health insurance!
And what about those folks who are working but whose employers don’t offer health insurance?
It’s just not right or fair that the system is so temperamental, whimsical and arbitrary. Health care is too important for it not to work for everyone.
By all means let’s keep health insurance in place as the conduit for coverage, but let’s make sure that everyone has the ability to get coverage if that coverage is the gatekeeper for getting care.
Flying to the moon is rocket science. Ensuring access to health care for everyone should not be.