This morning, I rode my bike downtown to the bank. (exercise – healthy!) After depositing my check, I decided to stop for breakfast at the Main Street Cafe. For any readers unfamiliar with Kalamazoo, Main Street is a wonderful little breakfast and lunch joint. I don’t know if the waitress knows my name, but she calls me “honey” and always remembers what I order.
I am a creature of habits: gyro and feta omelet with a pot of coffee and a large orange juice. (cholesterol, hypertension – unhealthy! bad!) Afterward, I smoke a cigarette and read a book for a while. (lung cancer – unhealthy! bad!)
Following breakfast, I ride my bike back to my apartment (good!), which smells vaguely of stale beer. I threw a bit of a party last night. (liver disease – bad!)
As a very general rule, college students (myself included) are not the healthiest of individuals. We drink and smoke and stay up all night stressing about term papers. Fortunately for us, most of us remain dependents of our parents, and retain our insurance benefits, so long as we are enrolled as full-time students. If I keel over from lung cancer or liver disease or get hit by a truck while riding my bike (irony – good!), I will be provided with excellent, state-of-the-art healthcare.
I am sure by now everyone can tell where this article is going, eh?
Most people are not college students. Many of these people have absolutely no health coverage whatsoever.
To me, the much-publicized Healthcare Brawl 2009 seems like a bit of a no-brainer. People can’t afford cancer treatment, you
say? Golly, we should probably get on that!
Of course, this is not the case.
This excellent article by Nicholas D. Kristof led me to a rather disturbing statistic. According to the National Academy of Sciences, more people die every year thanks to lack of health insurance than were killed in the 9/11 attacks. Al-Qaeda doesn’t have shit on the inefficiencies of the American healthcare system.
We threw hundreds of billions of dollars worth of missiles and fighter jets and bullets at Al-Qaeda for their actions. I wonder what we’re doing about the 18,000 annual deaths a year caused by our own inefficiency.
The media is completely fixated on the hysterics of the right wing fringe which, it seems, is too busy worrying that Obama wants to grind up Grandma and turn her into cat food. They have yet to contribute anything constructive to the debate. Those that aren’t obsessing over “death panels” are busy arming themselves to the teeth. If there’s one thing the far right does well, it’s death fetishism.
This is not to say that the Democrats are blameless. Despite overwhelming majorities in both Houses of Congress, they have so far proved unwilling (I hope not unable) to pass a bill over the heads of a rowdy, but largely hapless Republican minority.
In the meantime, 50 more people will die today because they lack any form of health coverage. In a year’s time, I will graduate from college and join the teeming ranks of the American uninsured.
Frankly, I am terrified at the depths of our inefficiency.