Not Insuring People with Poor Health Like Blaming Victim for the Crime

  • I have a son with multiple health issues. They began appearing around school age, and were diagnosed, one after another, as the years went by. Likely, they were kicked off by a virus most kids get, which left his brother, thankfully, unscathed. However, with my youngest son, every genetic weak link broke. He was diagnosed with asthma, then juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, then obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, migraines.


    He has had the medications he needs. The therapy he needs. I keep on paying. He attends college, and is a gifted writer and musician. However, his health issues have kept him from working while he goes to school, and school is part-time. I was able to carry him on my insurance until the "average" dependent would graduate from college. Then what? Where in our health system is there a place for young people like my son?

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    We've been fortunate in that, with the proper documentation from a doctor, I've been able to continue to carry him on my health insurance - for now. I worry about his future. What happens when I retire, assuming I can carry him that far? Will I work until I drop because my son needs health insurance? What happens when I die, if he can't get in on a group plan?


    Is there something unholy about a person who has health issues? Even though I have several health problems of my own, I couldn't quit working because I wouldn't be able to get insurance for him or myself.


    Then there's a high school classmate of mine. He and his wife have been teaching English in overseas schools. They've had insurance through a British system. My friend developed a severe, chronic illness that has required many major operations and some experimental medication. He has had to retire, but his wife is still working. They don't know what they will do when, after his wife retires, they move back into our U.S. health system. He's used to walking into a drug store and picking medications that here, if he can get them at all, will bankrupt them. And no insurance company will touch him. Will he have to live outside the country for the rest of his life so he can live? These are highly educated people and they don't know where to turn.


    I hear some people say it's about people who just don't want to pay the premiums. They say it's about people who don't live a "healthy lifestyle," so therefore it's their own fault they have health issues and can't be insured. I hear all kinds of so called reasons why people who have health problems are somehow to blame for their condition, so it's their problem if they can't get insurance.


    I want to say to the people who believe this is the average uninsured person, "You go look a five-year-old in the eye and tell him that his juvenile rheumatoid arthiritis is caused by his "unhealthy lifestyle. You tell the eleven-year-old with bladder cancer that this is because he didn't live right. You tell the high school kid with cystic fibrosis that he did something wrong, and therefore he doesn't deserve health insurance when he grows too old for his parent's policy, that he messed up and that's his problem."


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    While many diseases are preventable with good health care, this too, often depends on prevention. If people can't afford to get the medical help they need, they won't be given the preventive help they need.


    And many, if not most, people who get sick haven't done anything "wrong." Are we so heartless in this nation that we blame the ill for their predicament? That is like blaming the victim for the crime. What are young people who were dealt a poor health card to do for insurance coverage? What are retirees who have health problems to do, if they are forced to retire before they are old enough for Medicare? Why can we not find a way for everyone to have health benefits? I believe we can. We must. Surely this nation can take better care of its own.


    To learn more about Carol, please go to


Published On: February 13, 2008