COMMENTARY: Deadly and dangerous — Healthcare in America

Ray Curry, Secretary-Treasurer, UAW | 10/29/2019, 10:37 p.m.
Laughter is the Best Medicine, says the Reader's Digest version of America. But, not when it’s the only medicine, responds ...

Laughter is the Best Medicine, says the Reader's Digest version of America.

But, not when it’s the only medicine, responds the America that far too many have known and continue to know. Not when the United States alone is one of the world’s top 33 most developed countries that does not have a form of universal health care that covers all of its population.

I guess I am just not in on the joke when I see people either going without health care — something that ought to be a human right — or struggling to the breaking point to keep on top of huge medical bills when sickness or infirmary hit.

Funny how that just isn’t funny. Actually, it is a national tragedy.

A tragedy when African Americans in disproportionate number lack insurance coverage. For too many folks in this country, you are free to laugh — just not till it hurts.

The system is sick

Here are some not-so-fun facts.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), which focuses on major health care issues facing the nation as well as the U.S. role in global health policies, as of year-end 2016, 27 million Americans in this country were without medical coverage.

That number was significantly down from the more than 44 million in 2013 — just before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) kicked in. But in 2017, the current administration took office, and … VOILA!

After much purposeful meddling and dismantling, a year later we saw 700,000 people moving back into the uninsured column. These are the latest stats from the KFF, but the folks there know the score under the current administration. Ongoing efforts to alter historic gains in health insurance coverage via the ACA or to make receipt of Medicare contingent on work (another Republican initiative) they say, “may further erode coverage gains seen under the ACA.”

That statement carries with it profound life and death implications, that have the potential to affect families from coast to coast, in neighborhoods and communities all over America.

The KFF aren’t the only ones who know what that will mean for working Americans. I think we all know that assaults on the ACA are an assault on the health and wellbeing of millions of Americans.

Scared … just plain scared.

So, what does it mean to be without healthcare in America? It is truly frightening on so many levels.

How about facing each day without knowing if medical care is even available for your family? How about having to postpone necessary care and forego preventive care — such as childhood immunizations and routine check-ups? How about no regular doctor, limited or no access to prescriptions, and only seeking medical attention when it’s bordering on too late and winding up in the hospital or worse?

And, how about the shameful fact that in today’s America, when a loved one falls ill or is in need of medical care, too often it’s the devastating financial burden that is the focus, rather than being able to concentrate on healing. This is not the America I know and love, and it is certainly not the America I want to know.