The Importance of Health Insurance

I have a sick son today. He sounds like he did when he had croup as a baby, but he's dealing with it okay. He had a fever yesterday, but the fever has broken this morning and I'm pretty sure he's on the mend. Now that I have experience with croup, I know what to do without having to resort to medication or a doctor's visit.

However, when he got croup as a baby, he got it really bad. We ended up in the emergency room of the local hospital with a boy who wasn't breathing well. He had to have a treatment of steroids there to open up his airways. And I was very happy that we had all the coverage we needed in case he needed to stay there overnight. In fact, we have semi-private coverage, which I think is important if you do need to be in hospital. There's nothing worse than being sick and not being able to rest because you have a room full of roommates who are all getting up or being treated at different times of the day.

If we didn't have health insurance, I'm sure the bill for the doctor consultation, the steroid treatment and the nursing care would have been several hundred dollars.

Now, it's hard to be completely without health insurance in Canada -- we would always have some level of coverage. However, the basic health insurance provided through our province doesn't give the extra benefits that we have, including prescription drug coverage. Basic coverage is better than nothing, but a serious illness -- even in Canada -- can mean a significant financial problem.

In the US, if you don't have health insurance in this day and age (especially with the rising costs of tests and hospital care) one serious illness can mean financial ruin. Unfortunately, it is usually the folks who are already struggling financially who don't have health insurance -- so the impact is even worse, and financial problems are even closer at hand.

This is where workers in the US should band together to encourage their employers to get health insurance for their employees. Decent health care should be a universal good; it shouldn't be a "special benefit" to only a few.

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