“It always seems impossible until it’s done”Nelson Mandela
People often talk about how they knew their significant other was the person they were going to be with forever. For me, I knew I was going to be with my wife by the calm she brought to my soul. We found in each other this carefree, I’m unabashedly me all-the-time-ness that fills our life with laughter and love. I cannot imagine my life without her. My wife is also a Type 1 diabetic, or as I heard recently, Type One-derful. For many, this chronic-condition with no cure that is caused by being born with a pancreas that produces little to no insulin can be a death sentence for those born in the United States… who are under-insured or have no insurance.
When I first started dating my wife, she was working in downtown Chicago doing her thing as a pastry chef (I know a diabetic making pastries is a little on the nose). Now if you know anything about chefs, they do not get paid much unless you’re the head chef. Restaurant workers also typically do not get health insurance. This meant that my wife had to join the wonderful world of the insurance marketplace of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA did a lot of wonderful things: let kids stay on their parents insurance and eliminated insurance companies ability to drop you for things like pregnancy, diabetes, and cancer… you know, pre-existing conditions. The plan my wife was paying for was $250 a month with a $5,000 deductible. If you’re reading this and do not live in the United States, you pay for an insurance plan, you pay additional money until it hits the deductible when the insurance plan helps you pay for your medical necessities like prescriptions and medical procedures, and you still have to pay to actually see your doctor in the form of a co-pay. This still does not cover dental, vision, hearing, and long-term care for the elderly and people with disabilities. Anyways, my wife was paying $250 a month for her insurance plan and also ANOTHER $800 a month for the insulin she needed to, you know, KEEP HER ALIVE!!! Now, if you’re doing the math, you’re probably starting to wonder, “but what about rent and food?”
I wish I had a picture to show you the Harry Potter closet my wife was living in when we started dating. She paid to live in what was essentially a closet in a two-bedroom condo that was literally under the stairs. She had a futon that barely fit when down. She was eating meals comparable to that of a college student. After seeing the way this woman I loved was living, I told her to pack up her stuff and live with me. Because at the end of the day, she wasn’t living. She was paycheck to paycheck trying to figure out if she needed to ration her insulin, buy food, or where she was going to live next. Can you imagine having to ration the thing you need to live? Sadly, this plays out all over the United States. People rationing life-saving drugs, because they can’t afford the prescription costs and succumbing to their illness. NO ONE should ever have to die because they cannot afford their prescription.
Here is the real kicker, after we got married and she was put on my insurance plan, her insulin for three vials was… $10! TEN DOLLARS!!! Now, if you’re reading this and thinking, “Wow! That’s great! Thank goodness for insurance!”, you and I expressed drastically different feelings. I was sick to my stomach thinking of the families that aren’t as lucky as me to have the insurance I do. I was sick thinking about the people dying because they don’t go see a doctor for fear of the medical bills or when they finally do it’s too late. I was sick thinking about the millions of people who go bankrupt because they got cancer. The people who beg not to have an ambulance called for them because they can’t afford it. I can go on and on and on.
Thankfully, Medicare-for-All is on the ballot this primary. As Super Tuesday approaches, we all have a fundamental choice to drastically change how we care for each other. Recent studies show that this plan would save over 60,000 lives PER year as well as billions of dollars. As educators, we are all here for students. We want the best for our students. Now imagine with me, for a few seconds, a world for these students that includes Medicare-for-All.
Imagine a classroom where all of your students can see your amazing visuals you’ve included, because their parents were able to take them to the eye doctor and get them the glasses they couldn’t previously afford.
Imagine a classroom where all of your students are able to hear your instructions and those kindergartners learning their phonemic awareness and phonics aren’t doing so with the barrier of a hearing loss, because their parents didn’t have to worry about the cost of a hearing aid or a cochlear implant.
Imagine a classroom where students are able to apply coping skills, because they are able to see a therapist to help them work through their adverse childhood experiences.
Imagine a classroom where all of your students didn’t lose a relative or parent who was rationing their insulin because they couldn’t afford another vial or lost their home due to their parent’s going into bankruptcy because their insurance didn’t cover the full cost of a life-saving operation to fight cancer.
Imagine one of your students being the first in their family to go off to college because the money their parents were previously spending on health insurance was put towards their tuition.
Imagine that student that made it the whole way through college, because they didn’t have to drop out to care for a sick parent or grandparent.
People will continue to say, “How can we afford to provide healthcare for all?” To them I say, “How can we afford not to?”