If the woman in Luke 8 who’d been hemorrhaging for twelve years lived in the U.S., she would have been dropped by her insurance company by the time she met up with Jesus. You can bet that she would have been fired from her job for taking too many sick days. And if after her miraculous healing she had applied for health insurance she probably would have been turned down flat. Prior or preexisting medical conditions make you a bad risk in the eyes of insurance companies. Of course, it’s possible that she might have qualified for partial coverage. That means, every thing except the uterus is insured.
In case you didn’t know: health insurance in the U.S. is for the healthy. You better suck it up and keep going.
Researchers estimate that some 16% of the people in this country are walking around with no medical insurance coverage. Do the math: that means that nearly 47 million people live on a wing and prayer everyday. If they do get sick, hopefully it’s nothing an over the counter purchase at the drugstore won’t cure. Who are these uninsured people? They are the people who hand you your burger and fries out the window at the fastfood restaurant. They are the people who “sit” with the elderly through the night or escort special needs clients to the movies and mall. Who are these uninsured people? They are the workers manicuring the lawn and flowerbeds where you work. They are the beauticians (excuse me, hair stylists) who do your hair. They are your unmarried, pregnant niece and your uncle just laid off from his job of 18 years. Who are these uninsured people? They are the thousands of self-employed workers and the millions of people who work for small businesses that can’t afford to offer insurance for their workers. Heck, who are we fooling? Get real sick – for a long time– and you’ll see. Who are these people who can’t afford health care? They are you and me.
A friend of mine leaves this week for a vacation in Cuba. “Pray that Fidel doesn’t flatline while you’re there lounging on the beach,” I tease. “You’ll be joining Assata Shakur in exile and won’t be getting back to the States for a long while.” She laughs. “Well, at least I’ll be in a country where if I freak out and lose my mind, there’s free health care on hand in Cuba to see that I’m nursed back to my senses.”
I have only a few fears in life, and growing old, black, female, poor and without insurance is right up there at the top. There, I said it.
Every woman who has a breast oughta feel passionately about health care reform in this country. Every woman who has ever bled. Every woman who has ever had to care for an elderly parent. Every woman who knows what it is to walk the floors at night with a sick baby. Every woman who knows what Fannie Lou Hamer meant when she said, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired,” ought to be paying close attention to the stump speeches and visiting regularly the websites of each of the presidential candidates to see what proposals they are making for reforming health care in this country.
But here’s something proactive that you and I can do right now.
In an insane and inhumane move, insurance companies are trying to make mastectomies an outpatient procedure. There’s a bill called the “Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act” which will require insurance companies to cover a minimum 48-hour hospital stay for patients undergoing a mastectomy. It’s about eliminating the ‘drive-through mastectomy’ where women are forced to go home just a few hours after surgery, against the wishes of their doctor, still groggy from anesthesia and sometimes with drainage tubes still attached. Lifetime Television has put this bill on their Web page with a petition drive to show support for the bill. It only takes 2 seconds to sign and say “no” to the insurance companies.
Think about it this way: just in case Jesus is not passing through her town today with a miracle, let’s give the woman who’s just had a mastectomy the chance to recover properly in the hospital for a minimum 2 days after surgery.