Just occasionally we get a really heartfelt comment on THCB that is passionate and rational, and reminds us why for all the bile spewed about the topic the essential part of the health care bill—making insurance available to everyone—is really important. This comment from CF Mother was left on my post “Thinking the unthinkable” on Friday. And of course, this could happen to anyone—including you. And frankly the Democrats need to do a better job explaining this—Matthew Holt
Questions for those who do not support health care reform:
Twenty years ago our cheery toddler was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Afraid, we dug into the medical research to understand the disease that threatened his future. We healed through optimism, roused by the news eight days after his diagnosis that the gene that causes CF had been found, opening the door toward a cure. We knew that our heroes, the researchers and his doctors, would continue to find ways to protect his future. We were no longer afraid of CF.
The fear that woke me in the night was of losing our health insurance because our son was on every insurer’s no-fly list. While my husband’s profession was periodically roiled by layoffs, he decided against the security of opening his own firm because the cost of carrying coverage for our eldest son was too high, the thread on which his health care dangled too slight.
With luck, we made it through our son’s childhood without a gap in coverage. Now 22, he’s kept his health thanks to his medical care and his own glorious determination not to allow CF to cramp his style. He earned his black belt, went to college, joined a fraternity, and drives a 1961 Buick LeSabre. He spent a year in China, learned Mandarin, and discovered that even the drug that enables CF patients to digest food couldn’t help him digest raw sea cucumber. He backpacked through Thailand, had his wallet and passport stolen, but managed to hang on to his meds. This spring he will graduate with a degree in chemical engineering from UMass Amherst’s honors college, with a concentration in biochemistry. His resume includes summers researching the transmembrane conductance regulator, the protein channel in our cells that, when malformed, causes cystic fibrosis.
We can’t wait to see what this kid is going to do next. Next, however, has filled me with that old middle-of-the night fear. Our son will age off our family policy in April. He must shape his future not according to his dreams and ability, but in ways that will ensure that he keeps his health insurance. He must find an employer with health benefits that will hire a new college graduate in a poor economy. Or he must extend his full-time student status until he’s 25, putting off career plans and his desire to support himself. Despite his wanderlust and world-wide opportunities, he must remain a resident of Massachusetts, an isolated island where CF patients are not pariahs to health insurance companies.
I tell our story not because it is unique. Other families have been harmed, rather than merely threatened, by the ruthlessness of American health insurance. I tell it to ask a question. It is for you, the person reading this who does not wish the current effort to reform health care to succeed, who calls it “Obamacare” and “socialized medicine”. Help me understand your position, because I am mystified.
Are you a parent? Do you know that the bill under debate will prevent insurers from dumping people with pre-existing conditions, like my son or, perhaps, someone in your family? Do you believe that anyone who needs health care can get it somehow, or that illness happens only to other families?
Are you a fiscal conservative concerned about cost? Do you realize that the current system discourages small business development and blocks young adults’ opportunities to succeed, the foundations of a growing economy? Do you believe access to health care is not as essential as access to education in preparing our next generation of skilled workers?
Are you are an insurance executive? Do you devise new ways to make it difficult for my son to obtain prescriptions and services as cost-saving measures? Would you prefer to cover the cost of his lung transplant, because he has not been able to get the treatments he needs to stay healthy? Or have you decided that the ultimate cost-saving measure is to let CF patients and other chronic burdens to your bottom line die young?
Help me understand why, rather than reforming the American health insurance system, we should turn our backs on my son and the promise he and other young Americans like him offer all of us.