I first heard of this on The Swivet, and I’d like to help spread the word: Aaron Allston, a writer of fiction and paper-and-dice rpgs (including Champions, Car Wars and D&D, among others), had a heart attack a few months back. He’s recovering now, but he had a quadruple bypass, and now he has major bills to pay.
But Christ, the fact that this man’s friends need to start a collection to help him pay his medical bills should be an outrage to all of us. He didn’t have health insurance, and you know why? Because he works for himself, and the individual health insurance market is a disaster.
What about people who don’t have fans? What about a guy trying to start to start an auto-repair business? Or a woman building a client list for a new sports massage startup? Landscapers? Documentary filmmakers? Community activists?
I’ll tell you what about them: They catch cancer and lose their houses. They come down with Chrohn’s Disease and give up their own businesses to work for corporations. They have heart attacks and go bankrupt, lose their kids’ college funds, lose their retirement nest eggs.
Health care reform in this country is not just about the uninsured–people like Allston, who seek care at emergency rooms, the most expensive kind of care there is, and when they do go to a health care provider, they pay far more (often double if not more) than insurance plans do for the same services because they can’t bargain for lower rates. It’s not just about making those people healthy out of the kindness of our hearts. Yeah, they’d be able to seek care earlier (and at less expense) in their illnesses because they’d have a doctor of their own, and we’d have a healthier society.
But we’d also have fewer medical bankruptcies (currently, we have hundreds of thousands every year). We’d have fewer people stuck in jobs they hate because they’re afraid of losing their coverage. We’d have less wage stagnation (wages have been flat for years, but companies are paying more and more for their workforce–all that extra money is going to health insurers). And we’d have more people willing to strike out on their own to start their own businesses, to go freelance, to innovate.
Instead, we have a federal government that’s structurally biased toward inaction and gridlock.
For a country that claims to value entrepreneurship, we don’t seem to have the will to promote it.
Edited to add: Seen via James Nicoll: Comics writer John Ostrander can’t afford the medical treatments that would save his sight. Note that Ostrander has insurance, but it’s not enough.