A fate worse than debt
“If I could suck the cancer out of his body and place it in mine, I would do it this instant.”I had not one inkling of a doubt that Paul was totally sincere when he made that statement.It has been said that the only thing worse than having a devastating disease yourself is for your child to have it. I can’t know the pain and worry that Paul feels for his son. A parent’s love can not be imagined, only experienced.Does a child’s malignancy guarantee life everlasting? It would be nice to think so. Personally, I need to believe in a higher power. Though I’m convinced that almost all of those who contend they have a definitive take on God’s will are as credible as Martha Stewarts’ stockbroker, I do believe in an afterlife. If I didn’t, when I see a sick or dying child, I would go crazy with grief.I’m not going to write much more about Paul’s sick son. Though I received his permission to include his quote in this column, I feel it too personal and private for the public.The good news is that the child looks to be in remission, but Paul did caution me that he won’t be able to exhale with any relief until five years have past. The bad news is that my friend is now broke.Paul pretty much lived his life by the rules. He worked his way through college, found a job, got married, had children and paid his taxes and dues. He was very good at his craft and was paid well. Despite that, he lived below his means so as to save money for his children’s education and future. His wife used to chide him because he was so fiscally cautious. After about 10 years of Paul making a good wage, she’d joke that they lived better when they were poor.Like the good provider he is, Paul insured his family and his home; he did everything right. But then his child got sick and the difference between what his insurance provided and what was needed to save his son was more than $150,000.I’m certain my friend doesn’t begrudge the money he spent keeping his son alive, a parent’s love is boundless and bullet-proof. But the situation makes me seethe.How can we call ourselves a great nation when our government cannot protect our citizens from the financial ravages of serious illness? It is disheartening enough to know that millions of people, in this so rich a country, cannot afford health insurance.But it is even more discouraging when those who make every possible provision for every possible medical eventuality still can lose a lifetime of savings in a matter of months to keep a loved one alive.The difference between what a well-insured person needs to fight a serious illness and what their insurance coverage provides can sometimes be millions.Our government is very good at scaring us.We are told to fear terrorists, the social security situation, gay unions ruining the sanctity of marriage, sex education in public schools, secularism. I’m not afraid of any of that stuff.What I’m afraid of is that my wife or I will get sick to the degree that, whether we survive not, we will be left with nothing. I would hate for my wife to be faced with the dilemma of buying needed medicine for me or new skis for her.Our President and his minions are traveling the country trying to scare us into supporting a private sector Social Security solution. In truth, I have no idea if what he proposes is a good idea or not. I do know by the time any crisis occurs I’ll be gumming my food, so frankly I’m not afraid.What I, and most American’s, should be terrified of is getting sick.I read somewhere that 50 percent of all bankruptcies were a result of serious illnesses and medical costs. All of us have heard horror stories of a protracted disease leaving the surviving spouse or parent with little left but their grief.Does anyone have any doubt that if our leaders made affordable medicine, and the availability of healthcare for all, a priority it could not be accomplished? Of course politicians would have to burn some political bridges with the insurance, pharmaceutical and medical industry. Perhaps we’d even have less federal money left over for tax cuts, war budget, corporate subsidies and that teen abstinence program. I’d be OK with that.The truth is, you cannot have war without tax increases or corporate cronyism without running up the deficit, and there is plenty of time to learn abstinence once you’re married.Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of “Biff America” can be seen on RSN television, heard on KOA radio and read in several mountain publications. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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