The United States remains to be one of the only first world countries to not offer some sort of universal healthcare and Americans are suffering because of it.
In America we rely on insurance to take care of most of our healthcare costs. Unfortunately, this system is not working for many Americans.
According to the United States Census Bureau as of 2017 more than 28 million Americans were uninsured. That’s 28 million people that are not receiving health care and are left with overwhelming debt in the case of an emergency.
These 28 million people come from all sorts of backgrounds but the people being affected the most are between the ages of 19 to 64. This large portion of our population also happens to be the workers of America.
People of working age are the ones that keep our society running, they are the ones building our roads, teaching our children to read and making you coffee in the morning, but most importantly they are paying taxes.
They pay the taxes that go into social security, Medicare and Medicaid to support the neediest in our society but ironically have little to no support for themselves.
I have seen it myself, friends and family working full time jobs that do not provide insurance or instances of large companies keeping workers part-time to avoid providing benefits. Many of these friends have not seen a doctor in years and have few places to go if they get sick.
The issues with our healthcare system don’t just affect those who are uninsured, but also those who may have poor insurance or financial issues. Many people face difficulties with their insurance such as high premiums, deductibles and copayments making it difficult for them to afford proper healthcare.
In fact, according to a study by the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) 51% of Americans both insured and uninsured avoid seeking medical care due to the high costs. This includes skipping annual checkups and dental visits; not getting recommended medical testing or treatment; not going to the doctor when ill and being unable to receive mental health care.
Missing recommended doctor’s visits is a huge problem for the health of the American people, as they skip checkups and appointments underlying health problems can go unnoticed for years.
According to the National Cancer Institute this can be incredibly dangerous due to illnesses like certain types of cancers that don’t present themselves until it may be too late.
As for myself, I have been incredibly lucky for most of my life, my mother is a hardworking teacher and because of that and the young adult coverage law, which allows workers to keep their children insured until the age of 26, I have been able to stay insured.
As a young adult with bi-polar disorder this law has been a godsend to me. I live my life around doctor’s appointments and prescriptions, without the young adult coverage law I would not have been able to continue my treatment after 18.
Unfortunately, this will soon end for me, I’ll be turning 26 in a few months and joining the ranks of my uninsured brethren. As a college student working minimum wage this terrifies me.
Even though I am scared I know I have options, I am blessed to have a family that will help me get health insurance and help me get the treatment and medication I need. Another issue plaguing the American healthcare system is the unreasonable cost of these prescription medication.
Americans pay more per capita for their medication than any other country in the world according to a 2018 survey done by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
That same survey found that Canadian’s pay roughly two-thirds of what Americans pay, and residents of the United Kingdom only pay one-third. It’s no surprise that the KFF found that 18 million Americans import their prescription drugs from other countries.
You may have even heard stories of American’s going to Canada to illegally import insulin into the country or you may even know people that go to Mexico where the same drugs cost one-sixth of the price or less.
Unfortunately, these are only good options for people that live close to a border and are willing to take the chance of potentially breaking the law. I remember a difficult situation I faced a few years ago where I became truly disgusted by the American Healthcare system and the cost of drugs.
I worked for a call center taking calls in the billing department for a large corporation. My job was to deal with customers concerns when it came to payments and their bill.
One day I got a call from a woman, to tell a long story short she unintentionally made a payment to the company, over $300 that she had intended to go towards her medical costs. It was my job to tell her she was not going to get that money back.
I spent the next half-hour powerlessly listening to this woman cry to me about how she wouldn’t be able to buy insulin.
She told me how she was sick, and she was afraid of dying and I had to sit there and calmly explain that I could do nothing to help her.
I was younger, I didn’t know how healthcare really worked. I told her to go to the hospital surely, they would have insulin for her surely, they wouldn’t let her die.
All this woman could do was cry, because she was afraid of putting herself and her family in even further debt. I don’t know if I cried that day when I talked to her, but I remember the anger I felt.
I was obviously angry at the company I worked for, but I was truly enraged to see firsthand how our government has failed us.
It was no surprise that a soulless corporation only cared about money, however it was a surprise to me to see our healthcare system work in exactly the same way.