viernes, 24 de julio de 2009
Crónicas de un cerebro enfermo XXI.
July 24, 20009
Right after listening to Obama’s message about Health Care Reform, commentators in CNN were questioning weather or not the complexity of the President’s message would be understood by the general public. For me, the message was sound and clear: the economy and the health care problem are not separate issues. Although there is not one single cause for our current depression, health care is definitely one of the reasons why people file for bankrupt or end up loosing their homes. Attacking all the problems at once might sound complex, but a simple mind with a narrow purpose (fighting against “the axis of evil” in the wrong place) put us in this big mess. Well, we cannot give him all the “credit;” the economy of greed of the eighties and lifting the market regulations (enacted to avoid another Great Depression) by the end of the nineties, didn’t help either.
Regardless of the causes or blames we can think of, as a brain cancer survivor I see the Health Care Reform as a matter of principles. I don’t belief it is fair that other people who don’t have a health insurance or a high income to afford expensive co-payments will die shortly one year after been diagnosed because they cannot pay for the treatment. Moreover, if my treatment wouldn’t have been as succesful, I would have lost not only my ability to work, but both health care and economical resources to support my family and help to move the market.
The cost of my treatment for one year was around $300,000. Out of that cost, I only paid $10,000, an amount of money that even people who have health insurance might not have readily available in their pockets.
Lets face it, if someone without health care gets a seizure while working, and a coworker is so kind to call 911 while the uninssured is totally unconscious, when the patient wakes up in the hospital, he or she will find out that he/she ows already $50,000 dollars for resucitation and diagnoses. Even worst, besides being in deep debt already, that patient will soon learn that the surgery and treatment needed to have a chance to survive will amount to over $250,000 for the first year alone. At that point, the patient is in total shock, but with a lot of faith, prayers, and if and and only if he/she has a life inssurance, he/she has the option of easing the pain for a year with medical mariuana before meeting St. Peter at the gates of heaven. In this ideal scenario, the family will be able to use the life insurance to pay medical bills and if any money is left, to cover funeral expenses and part of the mortgage.
Lets imagine a “better” scenario: the patient has no life insurance, and since the main bread winner is dying within a year, the family sends a chain prayer through electronic mail to one C.E.O. from Walls Street, adding the following important message: if you send this prayer to 10 C.E.O.s and I receive an electronic e-check of $15,000 from each one of you, you will buy an indulgence to forgive you from continuing stealing without being caught or put in jail. A 20 years guarantee is included; you will be admited in heaven provided that in case your investments fail, you donate your “benefit package” for the treatment of cancer patients. Such a faith moves a mountain of 11 C.E.O.s, and the family bread winner is able to get treatment at MD Anderson, and survives to live happily ever after. All the C.E.O.s dance around the cancer survivor, and both the health care and economic mess are miracolously solved.
Lets imagine the worst scenario. The patient is desperate. With neither health or life insurance, and with a mountain of medical bills and no money for treatment, he/she doesn’t know what to do. Whenever he/she dies, the family will probably be homeless. He/she calls the suicide hotline and finds out that Dr. Kovorkian is not good enough because the medical bills will survive him! That’s when the patient asks himself: “where is Bin Laden when I need him the most? How come we don’t have a rich nut in this country who could pay me in advance to kill myself for a ‘just’ cause. I might go straight to hell, but I can be one of those bombers who kills himself and just destroys a small Puerto Rican government building during José de Diego’s Holy Day. Bin Laden will not find out that the building was empty, and my family will receive enough money to pay the medical bills and the mortgage. Who knows, they might even have some money left to buy some indulgences, and masses on my behalf. I might even end up in heaven after all!”
Don’t think I am a cynical. I have had it all: faith, resources, and the generous love and solidarity of my friends, my church, and my family. From the friends and family members who brought food for my children when I was at a hospital bed, to the colleages who taught most of my courses for one year so that I could keep my salary and Health Insurance, I have experienced both the joy of giving and receiving. However, I don’t feel it’s right to be the “lucky one” who had it all. For me, Obama’s argument is neither too difficult nor too complex to understand if we replace the economy of greed with an economy of solidarity. Belief me, the market will be wide and prosperous if people learn the joy of giving and receiving. As Ted Kennedy says, I want everyone to have the same chance to live as I had.