February 4, 2021

Heal the Sick

By Glenn

One month after the installation of my pacemaker, I’m well on the way to recovery.  I missed a couple of days of work, but with paid sick leave and good insurance coverage, only a slight tingling on my chest remains.

Reading the news, I can’t help but notice that I am abnormal for a working adult. Hourly workers don’t get paid sick leave.  If they don’t work, they don’t get paid.  If they don’t get paid, they don’t eat or pay their rent.

How stressful must a minor sickness or illness be? How much more pressure would a major health condition create? Heart disease? Diabetes? Pregnancy?  Cancer?

I’ve had good health coverage all of my life.  As a child, I grew up on, or near, military bases.  I was born in s United States government hospital in Heidelberg, Germany.  As the last of four living children, my parents brought me home with no debt hanging over their heads.

When I was reckless, like jumping out of a tree, injuries were common.  In first grade on Fort Leonard Wood, I simply hobbled home, and my parents took to the doctor.  I don’t remember any fuss about costs at all.

Once my dad retired, things changed.  One day, during a transition from one civil job to the next, I sliced open my thumb. 

My cousin Mark and I had been playing in my mamaw’s yard.  By playing, I mean cutting wood with a cane knife and starting a fire.  Her house was in the county about an hour from New Orleans.

I was a pretty bad aim and pretty reckless.  The cane knife ripped open my thumb down to the bone.  Even though Raceland had a hospital, my mom and dad drove an hour back into the city.  They took me to the Naval Air Station for care. 

The only health insurance my family had was based on dad’s twenty-seven years of service.  The private hospital would have been too much of a financial burden.

I can’t help but look back now and ask, “What if we had no insurance?”  What do parents do today if they get sick?  What do parent’s sacrifice if their child is injured? 

Nearly 20% of Texans lack health insurance. That is twice the national average. 

President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law nine years ago.  It provided federal funds to expand Medicaid to working families.  Texas Republicans refused to take the money. 

Why can’t we as Americans unify around healing our sick? Why must our neighbors lose a job or go bankrupt just to take care of a child?  It doesn’t have to be this way. America can do better.

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