I received my bill from the hospital for my maternity care this morning. They charged a separate room an board fee for my daughter, presumably so that they could bill the insurance company twice. Aetna, though, who only covers 80% of maternity care, of course, passed the bill onto me. They were charged $45,000 for the care of myself and the baby, so my bill, after paying the insurance company monthly so that I don’t have to pay the FULL amount, is still astronomical: $5,000. To have a baby. In the wealthiest country in the world. And I HAVE insurance. Not good insurance, but it’s still insurance. I’m still not going to be able to pay the hospital for quite some time as I am jobless, and when I do start working, they will receive $50 a month for the next 20 years.
But my bill made me think about all of the people who CAN’T pay $50 a month, or even $5 a month: people who are living paycheck to paycheck with no room for error. People who’s entire lives will be destroyed with 4 words, “Let’s run some tests.” It made me angry, and not at the insurance companies or the hospital, because without regulation, people will make a profit where they can, but at the people. MY people. Americans who know someone like me, or worse off than me. Americans who ARE like me. And they DO nothing. They SAY nothing. They write no letters, attend no protests, and are content to sit idly by and watch their parents and grandparents, their friends and neighbors sink deeper into debt, not because they spent too much or didn’t save wisely, but because they became ill.
I’m ashamed of you, America. I’m ashamed of the way you’re treating people who have worked their entire lives to make a better country for YOU, only to abandon them completely in their time of need. I’m ashamed at the ease with which you dismiss them as not your problem, and the callousness with which you bandy about the term “socialism” as if democratic socialism isn’t WORKING in places like Vermont. I’m ashamed of your lack of compassion for those less fortunate, even as they sit next to you in the hospital waiting room or in church. And the Catholic Church is pretty clear that Jesus would be ashamed of you, too.
But guilt is no good to anyone without action. Fight back, America! Even if you don’t agree with the plan currently proposed, find one that you DO agree with. Ask the Congress to do better, to BE better. Don’t allow all of your hard work to go to insurance companies and hospitals. Don’t accept that Bankruptcy is inevitable with a diagnosis of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or ANY number of illnesses that are expensive to cure and control, but easy to fight. Don’t lose your home because you got sick. Don’t let people die because YOU stayed silent. FIGHT. You asked for the tired, the poor, the hungry. Now what are you going to DO with them?