Is health care right? The United States remains the only developed country in the world that cannot agree on an answer. Earlier this year, I went to Athens, Ohio, where I grew up in the appalachians. As it continues to rage, the debate over whether to abolish, replace or repair the affordable care act is raging. So I started asking people if they thought health care was right. The answer is always interesting.
A friend asked me to contact a forty-seven-year-old woman and I would call maria darden. She and her husband, Joe, lived in a long gravel driveway that snaked in the woods on the country road. “You might feel like you’re ‘saving’ in the movie,” she says, but that’s not the case. They have a clean, spacious double modular home, decorated with flowers on the wall, every surface is family photos, sideboard cut a bunch of roses, there is an absurd friendly the hound in the yard. Maria told me she was sitting on the kitchen table with Joe.
She joined the army in high school and married her recruiter – Joe is 11 years older than her – but she had to receive medical help a year later. She suffered severe fatigue, double vision, joint and neck pain and muscle weakness. At first, doctors thought she had multiple sclerosis. When this was ruled out, they were at a loss. After Joe left the army, he worked as an electrical technician at an industrial plant nearby. Maria worked as a secretary and office manager and had a daughter. But her condition worsened and soon she was too ill to work.
“I don’t even have enough energy to cook a pound of hamburger,” she said. “I had to blow it up in half, then sit down and rest, and then stand up and blow up the rest. I don’t have enough energy to spare a room in the house. “Eventually, she was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and depression. She is addicted to opioids and prescribes the pain of her joints and starts taking methadone. Her liver began to fail. In 2014, she was sent to an assessment of a liver transplant 200 miles from the Cleveland clinic. There, after more than two decades of deterioration in the health of maria, the doctors found out what the problem was: sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that causes sclerosing nodules in the entire body. The doctor gave her immunosuppressive drugs and the nodules narrowed. Within a year, she had saved herself from methadone.
“It’s amazing,” she said. In middle age, as her daughter grew up and her army reserve team grew, maria returned to school. She has been reporting on her husband’s work. “They have amazing insurance,” she said. “I think it pays $200,000 a year. But we also paid for it. ”
This is an understatement. Between the $6,000 deductible and the high co-payments and premiums, darden’s annual cost is $15,000. They hardly came. Then one day in 2001, Joe was overshadowed by a girl scout meeting for no apparent reason, and fell two flights of stairs leading to a severe concussion. It put him out of work for six months. The couple ran out of money because of medical expenses and his loss of income.
“We have to file for bankruptcy,” said Joe. He told me reluctantly. It took them more than five years to dig out the hole. He considered bankruptcy “very disgraceful”, he said, and few had told him, nor even his family. That’s why they don’t want me to use their names. He thinks it’s a personal failure – not the government. In fact, the whole idea of government involvement in healthcare financing has troubled him. He says one person’s right to health care is another’s burden. It makes sense to take other people’s money, and he doesn’t see how it will be.
“Everyone has access to health care,” he says, “but they should contribute to the cost.” He points out that anyone can walk into an emergency hospital, get treatment, and then charge. “Yes, they might have collectors following them,” he said. “But I believe that everyone should contribute to the treatment they receive.”
Like her husband, maria tends to be conservative. In the 2016 election, Joe voted for Donald trump. Maria voted for liberal candidate Gary Johnson. But in terms of health, she was torn. Joe wants obamacare to be repealed. She didn’t.
“I became more free,” she said. “I think people should judge by how they treat our smallest society.” She was one of them when she was the biggest. But she would not say that health care is a right. “The thing about conservatives is, ‘you know what? I work very hard. I should be a little more than the person sitting next to me. “”
The right does not distinguish between what is due and undeserved, and is disgusted with maria and Joe. They all told me that the people they knew didn’t work, but they didn’t have any bonuses, deductibles, no medical benefits, no expenses — all the stories that the dartons couldn’t imagine.
“I see people walking the same way I live, and they’ve never done it in their lives,” said Joe, his voice growing louder. “They live on the income of people with disabilities, and they are healthier than I am.” Maria describes a relative who, while receiving a disability medical grant and a medicaid card, took on a so-called bad outcome and worked outside the house.
“Frankly, it makes me sick – it’s just the grasshopper in the system,” said Joe, recalling the fable of webbed grasshoppers and ants.
The dartons do their best to make a living, and pay their taxes to help those without any income get health care free of charge. They also face thousands of dollars in medical bills themselves. That seems wrong. They think the government’s involvement will only make matters worse.
“My personal view is that the government will step in at any time and say, ‘you have to do this,’ and it has crossed the border,” said Joe. “A father, a mother, two children are working hard – they are working on a minimum wage, almost no – I have no problem with them. If I had a man who had spent his life drunk and wasted, no, I didn’t want to help. It’s just basic knowledge. ”
This feeling is widely Shared. They are the result of a vote to repeal President Obama’s expanded coverage of health insurance. Some people think that power is the protection provided by the government. But others like Mr Darden see power as a protection for the government.
Tim Williams, one of my closest childhood friends, disagreed with him. Tim was a bodybuilder of a quiet, 52-year-old figure. When we were in high school, he used to stand on the bench for me and tightly cut his gray hair, which was red in the past. He experienced metastatic melanoma in the 1990s and lost his motorcycle sales during the great depression. He underwent a year of chemotherapy and then three years without a job. He could figure out how to solve and build almost anything, but without a college degree, he had few job options. But then hundreds of job applications were hired as operators of the town’s water treatment plant, where I visited him.
The factory was built in the 1850s. We walked in a huge pipes, valves and console, through a series of huge filtration, softening and chlorinated pool control of local groundwater flow, and flow to the towns surrounding the highest ridge towers. The low hum of the pump motor stirs in the background.
Tim says people don’t think about their water, but we can’t live without it. It’s not a luxury; This is a necessary condition for human survival. So one of the basic functions of government is to make sure people have clean water. That’s how he sees health care. Joe wants the government to step back; Tim wants the government to strengthen. The gap seems insurmountable. However, every concern is understandable, and I wonder if there are places where these concerns might arise.