August 30, 2011

There but for fortune

I've spent a lot of time working over the years to expand access to health care to as many people as possible. As a consumer of the system however, (as recently as yesterday with outpatient knee surgery) I must say that I feel a bit ambivalent about it.

Let me put it this way: I want everyone to have it when they need it--but I hope they don't have any need of it beyond basic wellness and maintenance. Getting caught up in health care treatment at a hospital or other facility can be just as disconcerting and disempowering as getting caught up in any bureaucracy. Still, it's far better than going without care.

My recent experience with knee pain has made me think a lot about the plight of the uninsured, most of whom are working people. For various reasons, including my own tardiness and/or wishful thinking, it took me all summer to get around to surgery.

My problem was pretty small in the grand scheme of things, but still every step was painful, and it also hurt when trying to rest. I had to stop doing a lot of the things I loved doing. God forbid I would stumble on anything or have to turn suddenly or get jerked by a dog on a walk; the pain would be breathtaking. Let's just say it was a drag and that it didn't do a whole lot for my not-always-sunny personality.

My point is this. I'm one of the lucky ones in that my condition wasn't that bad and didn't last that long and I could get it fixed. But many Americans, probably millions, have it much worse every day. The Affordable Care Act, while far from perfect, would go a long way towards changing that for the better. It is sad to think that even now there are lots of people, including major political "leaders" working tirelessly to make sure that won't happen.

ONE MORE THING. I'm not up to scanning for links today, but my thoughts also go out to victims and survivors of the hurricane. We have relatives in Vermont and the scenes from places I know there are very disturbing. While West Virginia's mountains usually protect us from the worst effects of hurricanes, we know a thing or two about devastating floods here too--and wish we didn't.


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