Life and freedom are moral issues. It’s time for us to talk about health in those terms, beyond the wonkish phrases bantered about by those who oppose change in our present health care system.
Health means life. If you get a major illness or injury and cannot get it treated adequately, you could die. Tens of thousands do.
Health means freedom. If you have a serious illness or injury and can’t get it treated, your freedom will be limited in many ways. Your physical freedom: You may no longer have the freedom to move around.
Your economic freedom: You may not be able to work or your medical bills may bankrupt you. Your emotional freedom: You will not be free to live a happy life.
Health is therefore a moral issue of the highest order. And it’s a patriotic issue. Health security is a problem for far more Americans than military security. Your security is far more likely to be threatened by the lack of treatment for illness or injury than by any likely terrorist attack.
Wellpoint, which made $2.7 billion in fourth-quarter profits in 2009, tried to raise its Anthem/Blue Cross premiums 39 percent in California.
Wellpoint made its profits by not giving health care. It treated 2.2 million fewer people. It found ways not to treat people who needed treatment, either by refusing to insure them, dropping them from coverage, or denying authorizations. If you are sick or injured and that happens to you, you face terror — very real terror.
That’s when “health maintenance organizations” (HMOs) become health terror organizations.
It’s time to return to moral fundamentals. Health security is deeply patriotic — perhaps our most important form of security. Health means life. Health means freedom. Everyone can understand that.