Health care: the real luxury

We met a couple of young friends over the weekend.

One of them is taking the semester off from college to bicycle from Oregon to Oklahoma with a couple of his friends. As he put it, "when else are you going to get the chance to do something like this?"  I did something similar when I was in graduate school -- drove from Wisconsin to California, but then driving and bicycling are two different things ... it took us a week to go cross-country.  It's going to take him three months.

Another couple is having a baby. They plan to have the baby at home, unassisted.  Again, we've done something similar -- we had S2 at home.  The difference? A midwife helped us.

The common thread to these stories -- beside the idea that these two are doing things a bit more extreme than what we did at their age -- is health insurance!

What's the bicyclist's family most worried about? Not that he's missing a semester.  He's an honors student and no one expects that he'll drop out of college altogether. Instead, the worry is that he will get into an accident.  You see, he has health insurance only because his college offers it to him. And if he takes the semester off, he loses that coverage. "Don't get into an accident," his mother admonishes.

And why is the second friend having the baby unassisted? She's talked to a midwife and gotten the assurance that if things get out of hand, the midwife will come. But it's a bill that she doesn't want to pay if she can avoid it -- her employer (a small business) doesn't offer health insurance.

Health care is a luxury in the richest nation on earth.

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