Health care is an essential luxury

Kristen Watterson
is a sophomore majoring in English.

Most college students are covered by their parents’ insurance until graduation, but what about those who aren’t? Not everyone in college is affluent enough to afford the luxury of health insurance. In the state of Indiana, a person must be uninsured for six months before he or she is able to apply for Medicaid, which does not provide coverage for some treatments, such as inhalers. Fortunately, as students we can go to the Health Center for only $20 a visit, barring the cost of whatever medication we might be prescribed. If you have another issue that the Health Center doesn’t cover, such as a dental problem, the Health Center will refer you to a great resource called Volunteers in Medicine, a local clinic run by the hospital that guarantees affordability. However, because health care has become such a commodity and so many are uninsured for various reasons, Volunteers in Medicine is consistently overbooked. You must schedule an appointment months in advance.

People who are against national health care must be insured. Surely if they weren’t, they could understand the unending struggle an uninsured person endures. I have a respiratory condition requiring daily medication that costs over $250 each month. If I neglect it, I could be hospitalized. An average five-day hospital stay costs $22,596.

Losing my insurance was an incidental thing. It could happen to any student here. People who are against national health care claim that uninsured patients waste their money or could simply get a job, ignoring the fact that 10.4 percent of the workforce is unemployed. They believe that adding a national health care policy that reaches more patients than Medicaid will hurt hospitals, prevent themselves from receiving better care from private insurance and deepen the national debt. What they do not consider are the 40 million Americans without coverage (one in six adults) or the amount of money spent on foreign occupations that could be put to use at home, preventing medical crises that could cost the state much more in the long run. Unfortunately, this is a political issue, not a humanitarian one. As pediatrician Scott Applegate said recently in the Nebraska Journal Star, “a decision to accept Medicaid is a decision to pay for it out of your own pocket plus perform services for free. It’s a matter of how much money any given physician can afford to lose — that’s how many Medicaid patients they can see.”

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