Two factors dominated my thinking back then--the potential for running up a whopping medical bill and fear that a minor health ailment would morph into a major one. (Is that pain in my chest indigestion or something worse?)
My strategy: get creative about preventive services. Since, I'd worked as director for a health education program, I knew of the Healthy Women Partnership program at New York's Kings County Hospital Center
For several years, I obtained free mammograms, pap smears, and clinical breast exams at KCH's Women's Center.
I would attend health fairs to get screened for hypertension, blood sugar, TB, body mass index, or whatever else was offered.
Fortunately, I never needed follow-up care. What would I have done?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 43.6 million Americans are uninsured; they live with never-ending "what ifs?"
I know family and friends who suffer chronic pain, poor dental health, undiagnosed ailments, suspicious lumps, or untreated blood pressure or diabetes because they choose to pay rent or buy food rather than seek expensive medical treatment.
Some might use medications prescribed for another person or get drug samples from someone working in a hospital or a doctor's office. Shrewd choice or dangerous decision?
Many states offer coverage for children at low- or no-cost under a program funded jointly by the federal government and the states. Admirable, I say. But their parents might not have insurance. If they are the working poor, they can easily fall through the medical cracks.
Shouldn't family health be the goal? Healthy parents caring for healthy kids.
Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, opposes Obama's plan because it smacks of "socialism."
A recent Huffington Post article reports:
Steele accused Obama of "experimenting" with America's health care, pursuing a government-dominated approach that would bankrupt the country without reforming the system.
Can Obama put the care back in health? I hope so.
We send millions of dollars around the world for food, medicine, and economic development; nonetheless, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, domestic violence, obesity, and poor nutrition remain major health concerns for our country.
Americans understand the challenge of containing health care costs in the face of trillions of dollars of federal debt.
However, will a national health plan cost more than existing private health plans that, in addition to annual premiums, require co-pays for hospitalizations, specialists' referrals, doctors'fees, emergency care, specialty drugs, and dental services?
Critics who believe that the federal government will botch up the administration of a national health plan forget that Medicare and Medicaid currently contract out services through HMOs or other agencies--with mixed results in quality of care.
What's missing from the debate are alternative proposals to universal health coverage. Mostly, we hear rhetoric and bombast from naysayers rather than substantive alternatives.
Democrats and Republicans should set aside partisan politics and give Americans what they want: peace of mind and access to health care.
I suspect that most opponents to national health insurance have coverage.
Let's spread the access.