Universal Healthcare Would Give Us More Freedom
I was watching a video of Pete Buttigieg speaking about all the things that make a person unfree. I found it very interesting. Freedom isn’t something I think about that frequently actually. Since watching the clip, I’ve been stewing on the subject. It didn’t take long to see multiple ways in which people experience the very opposite of freedom.
Mark and I were talking one day about what kind of work we would do if money wasn’t a consideration. He talked about selling boats. It would be great to spend all day out on the lake demoing new models, teaching people about the different water-sports and watching people have fun. I talked about moving to D.C. and becoming an investigative journalist, operating in the shadows, gathering information and shining light on corruption/scandal. We enjoyed talking it through and laughing at how different we are. Of course it’s all just a daydream. But why? This is America! The land of the free! You should be able to chase your dreams, right? Well, not exactly. We get our health insurance through Mark’s employer. Our son has a pre-existing condition that requires therapy 5 days a week. On top of that, he receives speech therapy and occupational therapy every week as well. If there is any lapse in our insurance coverage than he would lose all the services unless we pay privately. Paying privately would cost us anywhere between $85K-$100K a year. We would also run the risk of getting partial coverage for what he needs or not getting coverage at all with a new employer. On top of that we would have to go on a two year wait list to receive the services he gets now because the demand is so great. So, in all reality, Mark can’t leave his job. He doesn’t have a choice in the matter. Even if a better opportunity comes his way, he can’t even consider it. To me, that’s not freedom.
Take this hypothetical. You graduate high school, go to college, become an engineer or a nurse making $60-80K a year. You buy a house in the burbs for $200k, get married and have some kids. You continue to drive the car you’ve had since you were 18 because it’s a good commuter. You buy a modest SUV/minivan to get your family around. Nothing too crazy, roughly $20k. You’re insured through your employer and pay a $600-700 monthly premium. You have a high deductible plan and an HSA account. You pay for the pregnancies, broken arms, glasses, braces, prescriptions, antibiotics or whatever else comes up. All the normal things. You put the kids in preschool, sign them up for swimming lessons and buy them Easter baskets. You don’t have a lot of extra money, but you do what you can. Grandma and Grandpa help a bit with Christmas and other holidays. After a few years of staying above water, you start spending more than you’re bringing in. You look at the budget to see where you can make some cuts. Trouble is there isn’t much to cut. You’re not living an extravagant life. You don’t eat out much and most the activities you do with the family are free. What if the stay-at-home parent gets a job? Well, can you make enough to make the full time daycare for 3 kids worth it? Probably not. What about selling the house? The housing market has exploded around here! Now, if you downsize you’ll be paying the same for a smaller house, in an area that’s not ideal. What about renting? Rents are higher than your current mortgage. Can you get a second job? Sure, but then you won’t get to spend any time with your family. Now, the frustration sets in because you did everything right. You followed the rules! You work hard, you went to college and pay your bills. Why can’t a salary that is above average supply a dignified middle class life? You’re actually surrounded by a bunch of false choices. All you can do is hang in there and keep treading water and hope no major emergencies happen. To me, this isn’t freedom.
Here’s another to think about. Your spouse gets diagnosed with terminal cancer. One day everything’s fine and then it’s not. They spend weeks in the hospital and you just want to be by their side. You use up all your sick time and vacation time so you can stay with them. But, of course, it’s not enough. Also, how are you going to pay your regular bills? Your spouse isn’t working now and you need both incomes to stay up on your mortgage. This doesn’t include the medical bills that are now piling up. Here are your choices: lose everything you have to pay for the treatment, funeral costs and other bills or declare medical bankruptcy which will lead you down a path of lifelong financial repercussions. I guess you could also start a gofundme page and add your story to the countless other ones that are in the same situation. Again, you’re surrounded by false choices. To me, this isn’t freedom.
Just so you know, these scenarios aren’t actually hypothetical. I’ve had conversations with multiple people I know about how they are trapped in their life with no options. The cancer scenario is actually someone I’m quite close with. My point is that you don’t have to look any further than your own life to see how frequently people are not free. Isn’t America supposed to be the home of the free? These are just a few of the ways people experience unfreedom. I’m sure there are countless more examples. Freedom isn’t just about keeping your guns or holding off an oppressive government. It’s also about freedom from worry. Strong social safety nets and a single payer healthcare system would rid us of the stress of being dealt a bad or unlucky hand. Some call this socialism, but I call it taking care of your people. It’s a standard of living that every human being deserves, especially in the richest country on earth. These are some of the reasons why I will be supporting candidates that will fight for healthcare for all in the 2020 election.
Want to learn more about which candidates support healthcare for all? Here’s a list: