I May Have Herpes, but I Also Have a Right to Affordable Health Care

Penelope James Health Guide
  • With an election coming up, and a lot at stake, the media and concerned citizens of the US have recently brought up important issues that affect our country as well as the rest of the world.  One issue that’s particularly significant to me is reforming the health care system in the United States.  As someone who is happily self-employed, but burdened by pre-existing health conditions, getting health insurance is no easy task.  Yes, there was a time when I sold my soul to the corporate world for a higher salary and benefits, including health care.  But now that I am able to make a living off my diverse abilities, why should I have to compromise health insurance to pursue the freelance lifestyle I love?

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    If you’ve ever been rejected for health insurance then you know how scummy it feels.  The application requires divulging your whole medical past knowing that, for someone like me who has a history of genital herpes and HPV, there is no way you won’t be rejected from health care plans in a reasonable price range.  So when my rejection letter arrived in the mail, detailing some of my most painful secrets, stamped by some mindless bureaucrat, and confirming that my health care coverage would be too much of a burden on a company seeped in capitalist greed, I felt a sense of anger and violation.  Never mind that I’m in my mid-twenties, physically active, a non-smoker, and generally healthy, the fact that I have to take Acyclovir (for a disease that affects at least one-fifth of the American population) deems me unqualified for health care.  I'm one of many who are stuck in the middle; too rich for the few public services available, but too sick and poor for my own insurance. 


    What’s the deal with having to meet certain criteria to get health care anyway?  Why is it that, in America, decent health care is treated as a privilege instead of a right?  I never chose to be born.  In fact, I was a complete accident.  Part of being alive means suffering ailments.  I mean, who goes through their whole lives without ever getting sick?  I am of the belief that everyone who is a taxpayer in the United States has the right to comprehensive health care without being judged by his/her lifestyle and illnesses.    


    As I said before, I was an accident.  Luckily, when my mom got pregnant, she was in a good position to keep me.  But let’s think about all the women who aren’t in a good position to have an unexpected child.  According to conservative American ideals, these women should bear and birth their children, but can only expect minimal health care in the years to come.  This, my friends, is a big problem I see with the conservative right.  If they want every pregnant woman to keep her child, then they should support a health care plan that would cover them both…for life.  If they’re so “compassionate” towards children, then why won’t they show their compassion through social services that are vital to human life? Forcing a woman to have a child she doesn’t want, then denying health care to the family, shows no compassion for the mother, the child, nor society as a whole.


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    Many problems with health care in the US are the result of it being a for-profit industry.  Since stress is a major aggravator of ailment, insurance companies are (conveniently, but perhaps unintentionally) maintaining citizens’ needs for health care by stressing them out with insurance bills.  In addition, look at all the advertisements put out by pharmaceutical companies.  If the money spent on advertising and marketing were put into research and development, maybe we’d see more rapid advancements.  Finally, what motivation do drug companies have for coming up with a cure for herpes?  The number of people worldwide with this disease is pushing a half a billion and rising, which means the number of people requiring treatment is sure to steadily increase.  The unfortunate reality is that, with the current US health care system, the suffering and pain of some is money in the bank for others. 


    As an advocate for single-payer health care (that is, eliminating health insurance companies altogether and having the government be the “single payer”), I am disappointed that the only candidates that agree with me are far from likely to win the election.  However, I think universal health care (that is, maintaining health insurance companies, but making coverage more accessible) is a step in the right direction.  If you’re like me and you’re tired of worrying about the future of your health and whether you’ll have access to care when you need it (without going bankrupt) then please do some research and use the next election as an opportunity to tell your government what you want.  I, for one, would rather see my income tax dollars go more towards the benefit of the people than towards exploitation and war.


    What do you think?            

Published On: October 17, 2008