Is health care right?
This is a question that divides americans, including americans from my hometown. But you can find common ground.
Is health care right? The United States remains the only developed country in the world that cannot agree on the answer. Earlier this year, I went to Athens, Ohio, where I grew up in the Appalachian mountains. The debate over whether to repeal, replace or repair the affordable care act has raged as it continues to rage. So I started asking people if they thought health was right. The answer is always interesting.
A friend asked me to contact a forty-seven-year-old woman and I would call Maria Dutton. She and her husband, Joe, lived in a long gravel driveway and snaked in the woods of the rural road. “You may feel like you’re in the middle of a movie,” she says, but that’s not the case. They have a neat double modular home, decorated with flowers on the wall, every surface is family photos, sideboard cut a bunch of roses, in the yard and a ridiculous friendly dog. Maria told me the story of her and Joe sitting on the kitchen table.
She joined the army after high school and was married to a recruiter. She was eleven years older, but she had to get medical treatment a year later. She developed severe fatigue, double vision, joint and neck pain, muscle weakness. Initially, doctors thought she had multiple sclerosis. When this is ruled out, they are losing money. After Joe left the army, he found a stable and secure job at an electrical technician in a nearby factory. Maria worked as secretary and office manager and had a daughter. But her condition worsened and soon she was too ill to work.
“I don’t even have enough energy to cook a pound of hamburger,” she said. “I had to blow it up in half and then sit down to rest and fry the rest. I don’t have enough energy to smoke a room. “Eventually, she was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and depression. She was addicted to opioids that prescribed her joint pain and started methadone. Her liver began to fail. In 2014, she was sent 200 miles to the Cleveland clinic for a liver transplant assessment. There, after more than two decades of deteriorating health, doctors discovered what was the problem: sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that produces sclerosing nodules throughout the body. The doctor gave her immunosuppressive drugs and nodules narrowed. Within a year, she had broken the methadone.
“It’s amazing,” she said. In middle age, as her daughter grew up and her army stocked up, maria returned to school. She has been reporting on her husband’s work. “They have amazing insurance,” she said. “I want to lose $200,000 a year. But we also pay a price. ”
This is an understatement. Between the $6,000 deductible and the hefty co-payment and premium, darden’s annual cost was $15,000. They barely passed. Then one day in 2001, the daughter of Joe because a girl scout meetings, there is no obvious reason to put their daughter get faint, went down two flights of stairs, led to a severe concussion. It cost him six months of work. The couple ran out of money because of medical expenses and loss of income.
“We have to file for bankruptcy,” said Joe. He told me reluctantly. It took them more than five years to dig it out. He thought bankruptcy was “shameful” and almost no one told him, not even his family. (that’s why they don’t want me to use their names.) He thought it was a personal failure – not the government. In fact, he was troubled by the whole idea of government involvement in health care financing. He says one person’s right to care is another person’s burden. It makes sense to take other people’s money, and he hasn’t seen anything like it.
“Everyone is entitled to health care, but they should pay for it,” he said. He points out that anyone can walk into a hospital in an emergency, receive treatment and then charge. “Yes, they may have collectors following them,” he said. “But I believe that everyone should contribute to the treatment they receive.”
Like her husband, maria tends to be conservative. In the 2016 election, Joe voted for Donald trump. Maria voted for the liberal candidate Gary Johnson. But in terms of health care, she was torn. Joe wants obamacare repealed. She didn’t.
“I am more and more free,” she said. “I think people should judge by how they treat our smallest society.” She was one of them at her worst. But she did not want to say that health is a right. “On the conservative side,” you know what? I’m really trying to be a little bit more than just sitting there. “”
Rights do not distinguish between what is deserved and undeserved, and is not polite to maria and Joe. They all told me that they know doesn’t work, but no premium, no deductibles, there is no common pay medical treatment allowance, no fees – darden coverage of people can’t imagine.
“I see people walking the same way I live, and their lives have never been licked,” said Joe, his voice growing louder and louder. “They live on disability income and they are healthier than I am.” Maria describes a relative who is getting a medical grant from a disabled person and a medical card because they have a bad back, while they are working outside the house.
“Frankly, it’s boring me – they’re just grasshoppers in the system,” said Joe, recalling the fable of grass grasshoppers and ants.
The dartons are doing everything they can to make a living, and pay taxes, to help people without any income get access to health care for free. They also face thousands of dollars in medical bills. That seems wrong. They think the government’s involvement will only make matters worse.
“My personal view is that whenever the government comes in and says, ‘you have to do this,’ it crosses the line,” said Joe. “A father, mother, two kids are working hard – they’re working on a minimum wage and they’re barely getting help – I don’t have any problems with them. If I have a guy who’s drunk all his life, then no, I don’t want to help. This is basic knowledge. ”
This feeling is widely Shared. This is a large part of President Obama’s expanded coverage of medicare. Some people believe that rights are provided by the government. But others like Mr Darden see it as a protection for the government.
Tim Williams, one of my closest childhood friends, disagreed with him. Tim was a quiet, fifty-two year old man with a strong body – when we were in high school, he was the one who stepped on the bench and cut it tightly into a gray, flaming hair. He experienced metastatic melanoma in the 1990s and lost his job selling motorcycles during the great depression. He underwent one year of chemotherapy and then three years without a job. He can figure out how to solve and build almost everything, but without a college degree, he doesn’t have many job options. However, hundreds of subsequent job applications were hired as an operator at the town’s water treatment plant, where I visited him.
The factory was built in the 1950s. We walked between the huge pipes and valves and console, through a series of huge filtration, softening and chlorinated pool control from the local groundwater flow of water to the highest ridge towers around town. The low hum of the pump motor stirs in the background.
Tim says people don’t think about their water, but we can’t live without it. It’s not a luxury; This is the inevitability of human existence. So a basic government function is to make sure people have clean water. That’s how he sees health care. Joe wants the government to step back, and Tim wants the government to step up. The chasm seems insuperable. However, every issue is understandable, and I wonder if there are places where these problems might arise.
Before I enter the field of public health, health care is a right, not a privilege, I grow up to be a Midwest core beliefs: you can’t do nothing, and you should not impose others, also want to impose. Self-reliance is a totem value here. Athens, Ohio is a place where people make their own beer, photograph their own deer and build their own cars (they grow weeds, fight, and revenge themselves). The people here are survivors.
Monna French is one. She was fifty-three years old and was a librarian at Athens high school. She has experienced a lot in her life. She and her first husband owned a local taxi company, but they couldn’t afford health insurance. When she gave birth to her daughter, maggie, and then to her son, mike, the couple have to pay cash, pray that there will be no unbearable complications, and trying to leave the hospital, the next morning in order to avoid additional fees. When Monna divorced her husband, the business lawsuit left her without income or assets.