This is such a hot button topic right now that I've been seriously debating about whether or not it is a good idea to write about it.
I am not going to debate whether Mr. Obama's plan is right or wrong, good or bad. I am not going to claim that socialized medicine will or will not work in the U.S.
What I would like to say is this: It is completely ridiculous that basic medical care is not available at a reasonable rate to every American. Do we or do we not live in one of the richest, most powerful countries in the world?
About 11 years ago, I had a kidney stone. I didn't have insurance at the time - I'd just started a job and wasn't covered on their plan yet. (I was only making $6.50/hr, so it wasn't like I could afford a plan on my own.) I wasn't eligible to be on my parents' plan any longer because I wasn't in school any more. My parents took me to the emergency room, they x-rayed my abdomen to ensure that I did, in fact, have a kidney stone, the doctor wrote me a prescription for pain pills and for nausea and told me to go home and wait it out because I wasn't eligible for the standard treatment since I didn't have insurance. That's right. Wait out a freakin' kidney stone. So I spent the next several days drugged out of my mind while I waited for the stone to pass. It did and I went back to work.
In January of 2000, I was starting a new job with Bell South. I didn't make it through the first week - I kept falling asleep during training. I'd been noticing for a while that if I sat down, I fell asleep - and it was something I couldn't control. I tried coke, coffee, tea, no-doz, you name it. My parents were completely freaked out, it was very scary. I couldn't even drive.
Mom took me to a diagnostic clinic in Houston where they diagnosed me with sleep apnea and daytime drowsiness syndrome after I had an overnight sleep study. I was told that I have to sleep with a machine that keeps me breathing while I sleep. I also got a prescription for a drug called Provigil that runs $250/month if you don't have insurance. My parents paid cash for everything since I didn't have insurance. I don't know what the final price tag was, but it must have been steep. (An amusing sidebar - in the waiting room I kept falling asleep and then I'd wake myself up with a loud snore. I'd apologize, "I'm So Sorry!" to everyone in the waiting room and fall right back to sleep.) If my parents hadn't been willing to pay, would I still be sleeping in a chair and unemployed/unemployable?
What I took away from these experiences was the notion that there is something deeply flawed with the healthcare system in America. And you know what the crazy thing is? Even if you have insurance, you may still be denied the best treatment if it isn't covered by your plan.