Thursday, September 17, 2009

Real People

For those of us who live in a world of accessible health care, the phrase "30-million uninsured Americans" does not really compute. It's fairly easy to assign that statistic to the same space in the brain that holds the amount of the federal deficit, the number of Iraq war casualties, or the current lotto jackpot award. If we think about it much at all, it's usually to say to ourselves: "Haven't we been lucky?" Unless we actually know an uninsured American. I have known, and do know, several. I run in a particularly well-funded crowd...but, guess what? Even hard-working, money-in-the-bank people sometimes find themselves in an unfunded health care crisis. My father was one of those. He worked hard his entire life - blazing new trails in the banking industry, providing for a family of five women, rising to the top of the pile in his field of expertise. Then, in his 50s, he found himself with a comfortable life, a solid bank account, and a dusted off resume. The company he'd founded was sold and merged and morphed - and he was looking for a job. He also had a pre-existing condition. He'd had his first heart attack at 53. At 58, he died in a Houston hospital after 10 days in cardiac ICU. He had no health insurance. While the tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills left after his early death did not bankrupt my mother, they did make us all grateful for life insurance. Still...it's not really the bill-paying that haunts the memory. It's the knowing that someone I loved did not seek medical attention as early as he should have because he knew the bill would be high and there would be no resource to cover the cost other than his savings account. The savings account was supposed to fund his retirement, not his hospitalization. My father died before he could retire. Today is Dad's birthday. He would have been...perhaps could have been 78. My father was not a number...he was a real person. There are at least 30,000,000 just like him in America today. Just so you know. Peace.

2 comments:

Darlene Hello said...

Thanks, Jan, for reminding us about your dad's life. I did not know he was without health insurance. This is a perfect example of why our country has a moral imperative to fix our flawed healthcare system for EVERYONE!

gay said...

In a country as great as ours healthcare for everyone should not be an issue, this needs to be fixed.