Normally, I avoid ranting — vitriolic harangues aren’t my style. Yet, today I encountered something that just left me horrified, astonished and rather angry.
Let’s do a little set-up: I have a wonderful, amazing daughter who suffers from asthma. We keep it controlled with medicines, and she is in the middle of a course of allergy shots that should have her relying only on an emergency inhaler by her teen years.
She’s a trooper, taking her meds and her shots. She pushes the limits with running and swimming, because her hero, Teddy Roosevelt, had asthma and conquered its grip through exercise. When we are up in Gettysburg during the summers, she has no symptoms. We come back to Tennessee, ramp up the medications and things go back to maintenance. Yet, every couple of years — we get blind-sided. A little cold drops into her chest and wham! We are right in the middle of a HUGE asthma incident — and here we are.
Today, we went to the doctor, who confirmed we were in the middle of asthma-hell and prescribed an oral steroid and an inhalant for her nebulizer. While I have reservations about both drugs on the system of a growing child — there is no doubt they work, so I went to pick up the medicine.
OMG!!! The inhalant, with my co-pay, was $100!!!! She needs to take it every four hours, so there is almost enough for 2 weeks. Understand, I would pay $1000 or $1,000,000 if that’s what she needed — but here’s the kicker. I asked what the cost would be if we didn’t have insurance. That $1000 I would pay for my dearest — without insurance the charge was $982 to be precise.
That’s when the shocked, horrified and angry kicked in. There are almost 9 million kids in the USA without health insurance right now, and I would bet that 1 or 2 of them have asthma. Can you imagine a mom, any mom asked to fork over $1000 so that her child can breathe?! What parent should have to make that decision?
Using the 9 million number from the Urban Institute (as non-partisan a group as I could find) — that’s approximately 11% of all the kids in the US who aren’t covered. Now in a perfect society, health care costs would be some fraction of a living wage. OK, so there are no perfect societies and consequently insurance exists to protect the worker from potentially life crushing medical debt. Given that, can a 1st world country really have 1 in 10 kids falling through cracks? Where is the balance between laissez faire and “let them eat cake?”
Music (I’m not sure there’s a playlist for this), let’s try: Woody Guthrie’s social protest songs, especially Tom Joad — part II; John Mellancamp’s To Washington; the class struggle songs of “Les Miserables” or surprisingly, “Newsies.” Check out any version of God Bless the Child, I especially love Billie Holiday’s take or Eva Cassidy’s version; James Taylor’s Millworker; and Sam Moore’s take on None of Us are Free.
There’s a big difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do. –> Potter Stewart