Not what you are thinking though. I am thinking healthcare and insurance benefits. I just spent the past couple of hours signing up for them and I am the lucky one.
Lucky because my new employer offers a whole host of benefits which include medical, dental, vision, long and short-term disability. Then there is also insurance for credit fraud, benefit plans for lawyers, pet insurance and then the pre-tax, directly from your paycheck savings account. There were 24 different areas to pick from. I made my picks and I will be paying 3.8% of my gross pay for insurance per month with a potential of 1.43% of the gross in costs for healthcare. That is about 5% of my gross. And that is affordable access to healthcare.
This new policy will kick into effect 90 days from my hire date and I can breathe a bit easier. I say that with the silly notion that large employers are keeping watch at the current health care payment fluster cluck. I will be sorry to say goodby to the current coverage I have, but I am the lucky one.
I have been covered for the last year and a half on Mass Health, the Bay States version of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care. In graduate school I was covered under a student health plan that basically covered very little. When I graduated I was able to get onto the public coverage and because I was still training for chaplaincy, I didn’t have an income. As in I didn’t have a job. The coverage was basically free to me and every medical expense was covered and 99% of my medications. I could pick up my thyroid medication and instead of a 20.00 co-pay, I paid out 1.75. One dollar and seventy-five cents. Less than a cup of tea. Even my Epi-Pen was free because of Mass health and the CVS pharmacist found coupons to make up the difference.
I totaled up my health care costs based on billing submitted by my providers and it came out to about 78 thousand, of which only a small fraction was paid out to the hospitals and doctors, but under contract, I was not billed. I benefited from Mass Health profoundly.
Health maintenance is critical for me to be engaged in the larger community. In order for me to work full-time, I have to keep self-care in the foreground. That means that I have to put the needs of my body, mind and spirit before the needs of others. I can not sacrifice me to serve others, I must serve myself first so that I can be there for others. If I don’t take care of the vessel, I can not sail.
I am not unique on this. We all need to have good, not adequate, but good health coverage. By we, I mean all of us. Good prenatal care, infant child wellness, preventative care, emergency care and end of life care, including hospice. If we see the Dr. before the issue gets bad, or get our teeth cleaned on a regular basis or take the medications we should, then can you imagine what good would come from it. More of us could do the work we are called to do. More of us would take care of things before those little things become disabling.
So the issue then becomes: are we entitled to good health care?
If we look at the greater good, what is good for all of us in a society, then yes. People do better when choices for care are available and affordable. Society does better when the populace is healthy and can engage in the workforce. Businesses run better when their employees are healthy. Our economy can grow when the population is healthy. Our country can focus on other issues if this one can be solved.
Looking at the costs billed from providers; hospitals, Dr.s and procedures like labs, I was shocked at the difference between the charge and what was paid out. A blood test with a full metabolic panel was over 568.00 while the provider was paid 40.00. It is like going to Savers and seeing a cashmere 4 ply designer sweater priced at 5.99 when you know that it retailed at over 400.00 and it probably cost 50.00 to grow, harvest, spin, dye, knit, ship, and stock at the store.
So here is the long-winded idea. I got the sweet deal in insurance last year and now I continue with a sweet deal though my new job. But I shouldn’t be the only one. We should all have the ability to access affordable health care. For the benefit of the individual and society as a whole.