This morning’s email delivered an interesting employment opportunity – writing for a prominent blogger who is starting a new publishing company. I don’t know too much more about it, but I’m determined to follow through on every serendipitous opportunity that comes my way. Maybe this one is just right!

Since that is occupying my writing brain today, I offer up the prompt for my promised daily post. There were actually two options, the other is “Why I’m A Great Writer.” I decided I’d rather write on a subject I passionately believe in rather than struggling to toot my own horn.

(Actually I really believe everyone on the planet deserves health insurance, but I’m following instructions here.)

Wish me luck!

Why Every American Deserves Health Insurance

I live under a shadow of fear.

It’s such a huge and awful bugaboo that most days I push it out of my mind. But at night it sometimes reaches up out of my dreams, grips me around the throat with claws of steel. I wake, heart pounding, in a cold sweat.

What if?

What if a speeding truck driver knocks me off my bike – as happened to my friend Bob last month – and I crack my head open? What if this nagging ache in my neck is really a tumor?

I just turned 50, and I’m watching friends and loved ones drop like flies from the cancer epidemic that plagues our modern society.

Chances are, like many of them, I won’t even know until it’s too late. I rarely visit a doctor.

You see, I’m self-employed and I can’t afford health insurance. At least not the kind that pays for doctor visits.

And I’m not alone. Nearly half of my fellow Americans have inadequate health insurance – if they have it at all. I bet many of them wake up drenched in a fearful cold sweat too.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I enjoy good health and I don’t need medications. I am educated in natural healing modalities and in preventative self-care – so I have a chance at staving off the kinds of diseases that can rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses in a matter of weeks.

But all the best self-care practices in the world can’t save me from getting hit by a bus, slipping on an ice patch, or a head-on collision with a drunk driver. I could end up speechless with a feeding tube in the blink of an eye. It happened recently to my sister-in-law’s sister.

Thank God for her family she had health insurance. The poor woman may not have been able to care about such things anymore, but her family would have suffered exponentially by adding bankruptcy to the grief of losing their beloved mother, sister, wife.

How can it be that the United States of America – the most prosperous country in the world – does not have a system in place to care for the health of its citizens? Sure, many states have programs for those on the very bottom rung of the poverty line. But what about the rest of us?

If you work for the government or a large business you probably enjoy the privilege of regular doctor visits, along with the peace of mind of knowing their insurance will kick in if tragedy strikes.

But today’s small businesses often cannot afford to offer their employees a health insurance plan. And those that do are forced to resort to a plan with such a huge deductible, it qualifies as ‘catastrophic insurance’, rather than a true health plan.

And that’s what most independent contractors like me must resort to. (Note to self: find the money to buy that plan ASAP! I need the sleep!)

But even with catastrophic insurance, many people find themselves faced with bankruptcy, or even homeless when disaster strikes. That’s because many of these plans only cover 50 – 75 percent of the medical costs incurred – and that’s after a deductible of $10,000 or more.

That’s why an estimated 50 million Americans have no health insurance at all. Many lost their insurance with their jobs in the economic freefall of the last few years. It’s enough of a challenge to put food on the table and shoes on their children’s feet. Luxuries like health insurance just have to wait.

We remain the only developed nation in the world that does not offer a universal health care plan to its citizens. This is just plain wrong. It is a moral and ethical crisis and flies directly in the face of the values this country was founded on.

Our failure to come up with a plan to provide health insurance for the nation’s citizens makes poor economic sense as well. Current law requires hospitals to treat uninsured patients who arrive bleeding or dying on the emergency room steps. Guess who foots that bill? Hint:  It’s not insurance companies.

Often hospitals must write off these unpaid treatments, which forces them to charge higher and higher fees for their services. Which raises insurance premiums for everyone else.

Think about it. Would you rather pay a little toward your neighbor’s preventative health care, perhaps saving his life, or would you rather continue to pay higher and higher premiums to some of the richest corporations in the world?

Every American deserves health insurance. Every American deserves regular doctor visits and health education without being forced into bankruptcy. This is not socialized medicine. It’s simply good sense. And a moral imperative.