Healthcare Insurance as a Necessity
We often do not realize the benefits and privileges we have until we need to use them. I didn’t have to think twice when the hospital ER said I needed a CAT scan and later a MRI – Blue Cross would pay for the paramedics, various tests and hospital room for three nights – the worst would be my 20% co-pay which is false number since hospitals and insurance companies negotiate rates. But what if I had to pay for things out of my own pocket? I might not have gone to the ER only later to find out that I had a broken neck and wrist which would inhibit my daily functioning.
Of course ERs have to admit and stabilize all emergency cases that are brought to them , but someone has to eventually pay the bill. Hospitals cannot run on deficits – they have salaries to be paid, infrastructure needs to be addressed and if we have to go to the hospital, we want the best equipment. And while many healthcare facilities have special funds to use for those who cannot pay, insurance rates are thought to also makeup some of the deficit – which means that all of us are paying for ourselves and others. Metropolitan areas often have publically funded hospitals that are designated for those without insurance but as city and state budgets are in deep trouble, services at these institutions are in jeopardy.
Perhaps if a lack of insurance was distributed randomly so everyone would have an equal chance of being insured or uninsured, it would be a fairer system. However the system is not designed for fairness which means it is always the same categories of people that suffer the consequences – the poor, people of color, women, older students, and the undocumented.
I am lucky that I have an employer who has a good healthcare option and that my contribution seems equitable. So while I do not want to wish anyone ill, perhaps the next time one is in the ER, they could ponder having to make a choice between having the MRI or not for themselves or a loved one. “Awareness” is always the first step to solving a problem.
Jeanne Sokolec, Ed.D, MSW