Health Care, Cancer

In 1980, when I was 35 years old, I was diagnosed with my first kind of cancer. I added Leukemia ( CLL) to the list in 1991. I am living proof that cancer need not be an immediate death sentence. For all but a few weeks of this time I have led a nearly completely normal life, except for rather frequent dealings with the health care system.

Fortunately, I have been on a health insurance program that allows me to pick my own doctors. Other plans, like HMOs, assign doctors, and seem to change these assignments frequently enough that I wonder how adequately consistent care can be delivered. Of course, HMOs are a lot cheaper than the plan I have; for me it has been worth the extra money.

But when I see the bills for chemotherapy etc. that my insurance pays, I become very depressed on behalf of my young adult children and a considerable precentage of the population that do not have health benefits with their jobs. It is a national disgrace that we leave such a basic human rights issue to the whim of employers. It is also irrational, since the paperwork of the multiple billing agencies combined with the multiple payers costs a significant fraction of the total. Finally, it is dangerous to all of us, since often untreated sick people can spread disease to others.

The time has come for America to have a single-payer health care plan that pays for the basic needs of every American. It doesn't have to be "one size fits all." Let people opt out who want or need the kinds of employer- or self-sponsored plans we currently have. But zero health care should not happen to significant portions of the population as it now does.