Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Take on Health Care

My grandmother is 95 years old. For a woman her age, she still does remarkably well. But, as Father Time marches on, she is slowing down. A few years ago she sold her home and moved into a retirement community. For the first time in her life she became a social butterfly. New friends gave her a fresh start and she loved it there. My mom and her sisters, in an effort to make things as easy as possible for her, got her a lift chair. Now she didn't have to use up precious energy as she got up and down during the day. It seemed like a great thing for her. Soon enough, though, she wasn't walking as far anymore. She was having trouble getting around her apartment. She fell a few times. And we all thought, "She is getting too old to be alone. Old age is catching up with her." So, she moved to a nursing home. They got her into some physical therapy and she regained her strength and mobility. All of the sudden, she was back to her old self. So much so, the nursing home gave her the boot! She had to go. She was doing 'too well' to qualify for nursing home care. She is now back amongst her friends at the retirement community and loving life again. One old friend is noticably absent in her new/old apartment, however - her old lift chair. You see, it became a crutch. Sometimes we have to do the hard things in order to stay strong. We can't skip out on exercise and expect to keep fit. The nurses at the nursing home let us in on this little secret. They are the ones who told us NOT to give her the old lift chair again. They said it killed more old folks than you would ever guess. Who knew!?

As I processed this new information I likened it to the current health care crisis. It is on my mind a lot lately. I found so many parallels. It is human nature to take the easy way out. But is it the best path to choose? Rarely. It is easy to say, it is everyone's RIGHT to health care. But is it? I don't think there are very many things that we have a RIGHT to. Anything worth having is worth WORKING for. And if you are simply handed a lift chair, before long you won't be able to stand on your own. Accountability is also lost in this shuffle. Should your health care costs go up because your neighbor smokes/drinks/is obese/chooses to use the lift chair instead of their own power to stand? I don't want to go assigning Americans 'lift chairs'. When we give the government power over our health care, we are giving up rights that we will want later on, and they won't be there anymore. We will lose choices.

I actually happen to LIKE my health care coverage. You rarely hear that anymore, but poll after poll suggests that the majority of Americans agree. I don't want to things to change for me and my family. And I don't see how that can be avoided if we are forced into this new system. I lived in a very affluent area for over ten years. Many folks there are already signed up with private health care. They pay huge fees for the opportunity to see doctors who have gone off the 'insurance grid'. They won't opt to be in this new system. The middle class will bear the brunt of these new premium increases. We'll be paying for all those folks who chose a life of 'lift chair living'. We'll all lose quality of care if we can't afford a way out.

So anyway, those are my rambling thoughts on this big ole hairy mess!