Twice this week my life, or the life of a friend of mine, has been dramatically impacted by the current healthcare situation. Jenny and I are spending a lot of time contemplating and considering having a home birth. However, we discovered that we would have to pay up front for this service, which costs more than we could pay without risking our family’s current financial stability. My good friend Mike, who is self-employed, has some health problems and his wife has chronic back problems. Their plans to retire in Florida are being trashed – because of their need for health insurance. The total irony in this situation is that both of our families work, or have worked, in the healthcare system. In Mike’s family, his wife worked in a hospital for nearly 30 years before she was required to retire due to the severity of her medical issues. I currently work in the healthcare system, too. In both of our situations we aren’t able to reach the important family goals that we have set for ourselves and for our families because of the lack of healthcare coverage.
For Mike it means that they have to buy private health insurance, which costs more than their income. It means that they may be forced to decide between paying their monthly bills and paying for healthcare. It means that Mike may have to sell his business and find a job that provides at least some health insurance. It also means selling their condo in Florida and moving back to Indiana, rather than retiring as they had planned. For Jen and me this means that the cost of a homebirth won’t be covered or properly reimbursed by our insurance, or at least covered suitably so that we can afford to actually do it without wrecking havoc on the slight bit of recently-found financial stability that we have. It means that she may have to birth in a hospital where it is more difficult to have a peaceful, natural birth. It means that it would be easier and more cost effective for her to have a scheduled cesarean section (which she does not want) than it would be to birth at home with a midwife, even though the costs to the insurance company would be at least 5 or 6 times greater for the C-section.
I’m not a very political person, but something has to be done about the healthcare situation. We are not poor people living in gutters and dying of cancer because of lack of health insurance. We are, however, middle class American people who are sacrificing our hopes of being able to live out the “American dream” as we see it, solely because of health care, health insurance, and the need for healthcare reform.
We are healthcare hostages.