The cost of living


Andrew Atkins.

Andrew Atkins

I woke up last Saturday and realized — oh cruel world — that I was sick.

I pulled out my heating pad and shivered in bed for about an hour before I finally decided to seek some help.

I dragged myself out of bed, brushed my teeth and looked up the nearest urgent care.

The drive was miserable. I kept coughing, my head was spinning and I felt miserable. When I finally arrived, I grabbed my things and walked in.

“Sorry,” the receptionist said. “We don’t take your insurance.”

OK, that one was on me. I should have checked. I looked up the nearest urgent care to the one I was at and called this time. “Yes, we take your insurance,” the woman on the phone said.

I got back in my car and drove over. This time, the receptionist told me the doctor wasn’t in. Somebody muttered some information from somewhere behind the window. When I asked them to repeat what they had said for the third time, the man directly in front of the window informed me that if I needed a flu test, they couldn’t get my results back to me until Monday.

What was the point of that? I left and tried to find my way to the third urgent care of the day.

It turns out my illness had made me a little stupid, and there was one not even five minutes from me that was in network with my insurance company. I drove over and they got me in and ran all the appropriate tests. Yay, me. The nurse even complimented me on my lung capacity when she took an X-ray.

Thankfully, it was just an upper-respiratory tract infection and I was ordered to follow up with my on-campus doctor in a few days to make sure there were no complications. I’m now feeling (relatively) better.

Unfortunately, too many Americans don’t have the health care privilege I have.

A Texas woman, Heather Holland, died of flu-related complications. Initially, she was planning on picking up flu medication, but decided not to when she felt the $116 co-pay was too high.

Her husband bought it for her when he found out, but things got worse. She died.

Why do we live in a world where we have to pay money for life-sustaining medical care?

The National Bankruptcy forum reports that one in 10 adults delay medical care due to cost barriers, and one in five working-age Americans with health insurance struggle to pay their medical bills.

Prohibitive health care costs and privatized insurance are literally killing people.

A single-payer health care system would undoubtedly be the best solution for this. Collectively, all U.S. residents would pay into the system and all U.S. residents would be covered for any medically necessary services.

And as the Physicians for a National Health Program reports, 95 percent of American households would save money.

Opponents of the system argue they shouldn’t have to pay into a system where other people may use it more than they do. However, the reality is this: Everyone gets sick.

I’d rather pay into a system that is there for me when I need it than opt out and die because I couldn’t afford to live.

Andrew Atkins is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].