Our Nation’s Healthcare…What Needs to be Done

Our nation’s healthcare system provides for millions of patients on a daily basis. The system we currently have- paying out-of-pocket each month- has been effective for many decades. Although it is a system that works for many, is it the best option for all Americans in this day and age?

The factors that make healthcare more and more difficult to sustain for almost all Americans are high premium costs each month and high hospital bills after care has been given. I have heard it said time and again, from parents, friends and peers, all from different economic backgrounds, before and after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, that monthly premiums are just too high. (Co-pays for medical visits and medications mean even more money coming out-of-pocket.) It has also been a given to expect to pay thousands of dollars after a hospital stay, for many years after. I remember contracting pneumonia at the age of 13 in high school in the early 1990’s, and my father paying over twenty thousand dollars for my one week stay in the hospital. I remember it took my father over five years to pay that bill.

Although the treatment I received from my doctors was excellent, that care came at a very high cost- there were many times that I didn’t get to do things as a teenager because of family money issues. Travel, a car at sixteen, outings with friends were all out of the question. This coming from two parents working full time receiving lower-class wages.

A friend I have who is in her late sixties, is very well off with money, yet has very high monthly medical insurance premiums. Even though she lives off of annuities each month, she still realizes and knows that the insurance company she has had insurance with for many years will never lower her premium. It will only go up, which is why she is waiting and longing for the day she can be on Medicare for seniors.

What I am trying to say with these two examples is that it doesn’t matter one’s economic situation, healthcare is just plain expensive.

There are even many millennials I know who say that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) options they have are too high, and that they are barely making it from paycheck to paycheck. The idea of the Affordable Care Act was that it was supposed to be affordable, yet it is affordable only for a select few who have high-paying jobs.

Even our seniors are not well taken care of. Social security and medicare only provide a convalescent home that is often barely up to code and medical standards. With as many patients we have in convalescent homes, isn’t it time that we made it more-than-bearable for them to live there? I have a grandmother who is fortunate enough to live in a Northern California, brand new, assisted-living facility, with literally the best care I have ever seen. Unfortunately it costs $5,000 per month to have her there, at her own expense. (Meaning, she is paying for it out of her own savings). What happens when her money runs out? Does she move back home, or to another, less-than-optimal, facility? That remains to be seen.

Another situation I can share is from personal experience. I had a dear grandfather whom I took care of as a caregiver for many years. In his last two years, we decided to place him under hospice care at home, where we (family) could take care of him in his final days. With caregivers and medical supplies, we were paying approximately $5,000 a month for his care, coming from his savings. My grandfather received the best of care from doctors, nurses, caregivers and family until the day he passed. Yet wasn’t the cost of his care a bit too much? I say yes.

The last situation I have is another grandfather who ended up in a convalescent facility in northern California in his late seventies. Social security and medicare paid for his stay. He went from very healthy to very frail in three months, and within three months he passed away. I distinctly remember him telling my dad that they just didn’t take that good care of him there. So what was the real reason grandpa passed away so fast? It was obviously the quality of care, poor, that my grandpa recieved. Was his neglect due to unfair wages being paid to Certified Nurse Assistants and Registered Nurses who worked at the facility? And the quality of care they provided related to the wages they received? Leading to unhappy workers who just didn’t care? To me, this is the obvious case.

So, what is the solution? What is the solution for parents, friends, millenials, grandma and grandpas? What is the next step that America should take in regards to covering its citizens with medical care? The answer is simple- universal health care for all. Along with new laws that allow maternity leave for new parents, preferably for a minimum of one year, funded by each and every employer in the the United States. As well as more laws which establish a minimum of one month each year off for vacation, and more sick days for each employee. Universal health care means that there will be no more monthly premiums or co-pays, ever. It also means that grandma and grandpa will not have to shell out $5,000 a month from their own savings, whether in a convalescent home or at home. Also, universal health care would set up wages for medical professionals to do their jobs well and to live very comfortably.

Healthcare, for too long, has become a political/money-making issue that has not seen positive results. Politicians, the pharmaceutical industry and medical professionals have had their hand in the way of all Americans basic right to healthcare. Healthcare is not an issue to make money off of- it is an issue that involves the dignity and human respect we all deserve. When universal healthcare is a reality, I hope someday in my lifetime, we will all say, “Why didn’t we do this sooner?”

When will society realize that raising taxes for unlimited, universal healthcare is the answer? This is the only option I see for a country with so many citizens who are struggling and waiting for the right thing to happen. We shouldn’t have to pay for healthcare in this day and age. Other countries of the world who do have universal coverage have fared very well. Their citizens are well taken care of physically, mentally and literally lead happier lives than Americans do. If so many people want to see change in America, and America great again, why don’t we start with healthcare?