Imagine you are playing The Game of Life, and are 5 spaces away from retirement, trying to decide between heading to Millionaire Estates or Countryside Acres. Then on your next spin you land on the space that says "You've got Cancer, please pay $100,000, sell all your stocks, foreclose on your house, claim bankruptcy and go back 40 spaces." Then you realize it is not really a game after all; this is real life and a situation you actually have to deal with. This is a reality that many Americans face on a daily basis. If Americans had Universal health care, like many other countries around the world, this issue would be much easier to handle. In the real Game of Life, people wouldn't have to fear the twists and turns that lie ahead. Universal Health care would be advantageous to everyone involved for the following reasons: money wouldn't matter because we would have the same quality of care for everyone, we could maintain our freedom to choose, and we wouldn't have to sacrifice our well being at the benefit of others.
Money truly is a defining factor in how many people make decisions. It affects everything you do on a daily basis, from what kind of bed you get out of in the morning, to the type of soap you use in the shower, to what kind of clothes you put on, and how you get to your destination. Many never put much thought into this sort of daily routine, until they experience a drop in income. Consider what might put one in a situation where they have to completely change the way they live. The first thing that comes to mind for many is bankruptcy. In our current economic state you would think job loss is the number one cause of bankruptcy and foreclosures on homes. But in reality, lack of health insurance, unexpected illness, and medical bills are actually the leading causes (Gillette). If people had Universal health care and had access to preventative medicine it would be less expensive to everyone overall. The staggering statistic from the Institute of Medicine states, ""lack of health insurance causes roughly 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year in the United States. Although America leads the world in spending on health care, it is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not ensure that all citizens have coverage"(Medicine). People are dying mainly due to the high costs associated with treatment. If access was less expensive people would be more likely to receive screening and obtain preventative care for their chronic diseases. Therefore the insurance companies would save money by preventing the disease in the first place because people wouldn't wait until the last minute to get treated. In short, for a country that prides itself on being the best, we are behind the times and severely lacking in this area.
Taking the above facts into consideration, many say that it would not be fair to pay for those less fortunate to have coverage. However, once you think about it, those employed are already paying for Medicare through taxes, on top of paying for our health insurance, if available, through our paychecks. As stated by the World Health Organization, "The U. S. health system spends a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country but ranks 37 out of 191 countries according to its performance, the report finds" (Prentice).
She is middle-class, has worked her whole life, and pays over $600.00 a year for an insurance deductible. The insurance told her she had to pay 30% of each shot, which is $1,200.00. The average middle class American citizen rarely has $4800.00 available for use at the drop of a hat. So she wonders to herself how on Earth her family will afford this, feeling guilty and wondering if her treatment is even worth the burden it will place on her family. However, if she was on Medicaid, with no insurance of her own and no income, this shot would be given to her at no charge to her whatsoever. All she would have to worry about is trying to survive the curve ball of life that was just thrown at her. This incidence would cause many people to consider their life choices and if desperate enough for the funds think to themselves of ways to get around the system.
If Mary were to quit her job and lose her insurance, the government would allow her to get the treatment she needs. It makes one think, the working class pays into the Medicaid fund and their insurance with every paycheck, yet they are rewarded by being denied the necessary treatment unless they can afford to pay. In essence, America is putting a price on life, and only those that are rich, non-working, or lucky, survive. With Universal health care, everyone is treated equally and money doesn't matter. As was stated by a Canadian citizen in Sicko, "The least and best of us are taken care of." Also employers would save money because they wouldn't have to spend it on health insurance for their employees. Another area that America prides itself on is the freedom to choose. We choose our President, choose our jobs, and choose our spouses, as well having a choice in many other areas of life. We have options. However as stated in Sicko by Tony Benn, British Politician and former Member of Parliament, "If you're shackled with debt, you don't have the freedom to choose." Consider the above situation, the only choice Mary had was to pay for the drug and hope for survival, or don't pay for it and face death. She didn't even have the choice to leave her job to focus on getting well, because like almost every other American, she needed to work in order to have health coverage. As Benn states,
"It benefits the system if people are shackled with debt, people with debt become hopeless and hopeless people don't vote. If the poor showed up and voted for people who represented their interests, it would be a real democratic revolution. So they (the Government) don't want it, (they want to) keep people hopeless and pessimistic. There are two ways to control people, and that is to frighten them and demoralize them. An educated, confident and healthy nation is harder to govern. We don't want that because they (the citizens) would get out of control. The top one percent of the population has 80 percent of the world's wealth. It is incredible that people put up with it but they're poor, demoralized, they're frightened. They think perhaps the safest thing to do is take orders and hope for the best."
Universal Healthcare would empower those who aren't voting currently to step up and take a stand by making them more confident and healthy. It would allow the sick to focus on getting well; taking care of their families, and getting back to work, rather than focusing on how much their wallets will be drained.
Imagine just being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. First shock and depression would occur; it may feel like your whole world is crumbling down around you. Then when you build yourself up and it feels as though you have the strength to make it through it after all, you receive the bill for your treatment and it is more than you can afford to pay. Then the feeling of hopelessness starts all over again. Statistics show that enough people don't vote as it is; those citizens with a bleak future will be even less likely. Universal Healthcare would allow these and similar citizens to focus on getting well first and foremost above everything else. They wouldn't have the threat looming over their head that if they have health insurance it is based on employment. People wouldn't feel as though they have to rush back to work, even if they aren't feeling up to par. Therefore, the overall state of our country would improve because we not only would have healthier citizens, we would have better leaders. The people who currently don't vote could finally have a voice. Maybe then our country could stand up and be everything it currently claims to be in our National Anthem, the "Land of the free, Home of the brave, and home to those who actually have the choices that are claimed to be given to them currently.