Yesterday, I shared the Assumptions people make about me based on their preconceived notions and health care expenses. Today, I’m expanding on that topic to Quality of Life.
Besides “knowing” all the money I obviously waste on doing my nails, having a fancy new car, buying iPhones, etc. people also have other “helpful” suggestions about cutting back on things in order to afford insurance and surgery. Things like cancelling cable, Netflix, cell phones, going out to dinner, buying anything and generally ever leaving your house. (Which again is full of assumptions that I do any or all of those things in the first place.)
But what else it is full of is quality of life issues. I’m not talking about living outside one’s means. I’m not talking about lobsters and steak for dinner every night of the week. I’m just talking about getting through the days with a tiny bit of creature comfort. Being able to come home and watch a little TV, or maybe see a movie once or twice a year. Getting a new shirt or some pants now and then when your old ones wear out. Normal, ordinary life things.
To listen to the naysayers if you do anything at all to make life not a relentless, brutal grind, then obviously you’re just a horrible person. They won’t be happy until you work 90 hours a week at 4 jobs, live in a cardboard box and eat whatever scraps you can find from the dumpster – all so you can save every last penny to pay for your healthcare. Because THAT is how you become a “responsible” member of society.
Isn’t there something wrong with this picture though? Is this really how we want our citizens to live? Hand-to-mouth with not a single moment of enjoyment or comfort, just so they can afford health care? Is that the ideal we should aspire to as a Nation? Is Whatever It Takes really a policy we ought to adopt?
Why is it so radical that I and others like me think a person should get to enjoy a little bit of life. Not to excess but not to living in poverty and virtual slavery either? Why is it so hard to grasp that maybe, if healthcare were not a for-profit business, if it were more affordable and if EVERYONE had access to it, it would truly be health care and not just another, bloated expensive burden to keep rich people rich on the backs of the uninsured poor?
Does not our very own Declaration of Independence say:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Should we really have to give up life, liberty and happiness just to make ends meet? Just to see a doctor when we are ill? (Or, better still, before we get ill to help prevent illness in the first place?) Wasn’t our entire country founded on the idea that we, as Americans are born imbued with a right to be happy? How is taking away all simple pleasures in life merely to afford healthcare in line with that idea?
So, I say it’s not just the assumptions that get in the way of personal struggle and understanding for those 51+ million Americans without health insurance, but also the mistakenly self-righteous notion that some people should just do without – without anything – and that is ok. Because it’s not ok. And realizing that is a small step in better Quality of Life for all.