Three cheers to our awesome friend, Bill, who delivered a fantastic and totally unexpected gift to our house last week—The Election Day Advent Calendar. Today marks 27 days until election day. I opened the door on the calendar this morning to read:
I use the term radical in its original meaning–getting down to and understanding the root cause. It means facing a system that does not lend itself to your needs and devising means by which you change that system.
After some reflection, I thought I might attempt a daily meditation on each quote as I open doors leading up to election day. This is something that we’ve been talking about in our house lately:
I am self-employed and buy health insurance as an individual. I’ve been relatively healthy and haven’t had any catastrophic issues, so my high-deductible plan has worked well enough.
Prescriptions are insanely expensive, however, and more than once I’ve had to say no, nevermind, thanks anyway when I’ve stepped up to the counter to find out what the Rx I just turned in is going to cost me.
When that happens, I also say something, loudly, about the fact that this is why the healthcare reforms President Obama passed are so important to me, and why I hope we can continue working toward a single-payer system.
The people who hear me may think I’m a garden-variety urban loon, popping off about politics to the pharmacist loudly enough to make everyone wince uncomfortably, but I prefer to think of myself as a radical, leveraging a moment that most people would see as a private and somewhat humiliating transaction (i.e. not being able to pay for something you need) to create an opportunity to connect a political debate to a real moment in a real person’s life.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about a young teenager I know who seems like he’s doing pretty well, but who, through no fault of his own and despite intensive care, intervention, and attention on the part of an extremely loving family and the best medical care money can buy, will most likely face more medical issues throughout his life than your average person. I hope I’m wrong about that, but I know what he’s struggled with thus far.
His parents are voting for people who want to overturn Obamacare, like Romney, Ted Cruz, and other regressive Republicans.
I think it is great that they aren’t worried about how he will access and afford ongoing medical care, but I don’t think it is realistic. I hope I’m wrong. I hope he suffers nothing more than the garden-variety sniffles and scrapes so many of us are fortunate enough to count as our only medical challenges, illnesses that are almost always fixed with an over-the-counter remedy and a few days in bed that our employer allows us to take without risking the loss of our jobs.
I don’t know anyone who thinks our healthcare system is working. I don’t think his parents think it is, and they’re heavy users.
We have to get to the root, change the system. The ACA is incremental change, but incremental change is about the best you can do in a democracy. It does move us closer to a systemic overhaul and in doing so, makes care more accessible and more affordable to a wider range of people. Perfect? No, but a great start, and one that has given immediate relief on many fronts.
Radical change: we don’t have to worry about being denied care because of a pre-existing condition. My teenage friend will at least be able to get care throughout his life as long as we can hold onto that reform.
People who would take that comfort away? I simply don’t get them.
Radical change: it’s what we need in healthcare, and it is what we need in our everyday conversations about how one of the greatest political debates of our time affects our own lives. It’s why I’m willing to make my business everybody’s business when I’m standing at the pharmacy counter trying to decide if I’m sick enough, or at risk enough, to spend that much money on a medication.
I challenge you to think about where you can start such conversations, and to start them. Share with people whose views you don’t know. You might not change their point of view, but you might help them understand the life stories behind the political struggle over healthcare reform. That’s radical change, radical democracy in action.