One morning, my mom called for me in panic, and I ran down the stairs to find my stepfather fighting to breathe. I reached to check his pulse as he simultaneously grabbed my arm, unable to speak but with tears in his eyes. His pulse faded beneath my fingers and I began compressions while trying to stabilize my own frantic crying. My husband ran in to help and we exhaustingly performed CPR for a painfully long 10 minutes, while waiting for the ambulance. He died that day. He could not afford a blood clot prevention medication, which would have likely prevented the horrific event we experienced.
Harsh but Avoidable Realities
I myself live with type 1 diabetes and regularly fear for my life because insulin is so unaffordable. Diabetes costs the US $322 billion a year, with individuals forking over $13,700 or more annually from their own pockets. Diabetes doesn't see finances or wealth. It can hit anyone, causing a burden for even those in higher income brackets. Imagine the toll it is taking on the less fortunate.
How much longer will people face death, painful complications, or severe anxiety because of the costs of their drugs? It is outrageous to see this happening when there is an obvious solution: a single-payer system.
$400 billion— that is how much would be saved, by cutting out private insurers and their administrative waste, if the US moved to a single-payer system. The entire diabetes cost burden could be covered, just by removing high paid executives and advertising. Thinking about the current skyrocketing and unjustly high prices of insulin and other medications, it would be interesting to see if price gouging would resolve itself once the government is paying and negotiating prices.
A single payer plan is simple. Payroll and income taxes for health, like the ones already coming out of your pay check, would be applied to those who can afford it. The rich would pay a small percentage more. With an additional boost from existing federal funds, everyone gets healthcare. We would no longer pay astronomical prices for a middle man. We pay taxes, we get coverage.
This is not Socialized Medicine. It is important to know single payer and socialized medicine are two different things. With socialized medicine, the government owns healthcare; with a simple single payer, the government just pays for it.
A single payer system removes greed from a place it certainly has no place. Healthcare should be constructed of an ambition to heal, not a hunger for money. Our greed driven system is dangerous, and is resulting in the death of our people.
I've both heard and lived the "I can't afford my insulin" story. Having worked in a hospital, I've seen patients wait far too long to come in to treat a life-threatening emergency because they are terrified it will cost them everything they have.
Bring the Change
Seeing these things, first hand, has fueled the urgency in my heart to not only advocate for #insulin4all, but for a healthcare answer for everyone. What is happening now is sickening, and is violating our rights as human beings. Educate yourself, develop your opinions and join the fight with T1International. Regardless of the disease or ailment, we can fight this together. Contact your representatives, share your stories and approach your campaign in a structured, productive way.
From the day I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I felt strangely optimistic about my future. I've struggled, no doubt, but that same optimism still remains. Maybe I feel a cure on the horizon, or the possibility of a huge shift that will change the life of every ill person. If we are persistent, both will happen. A strong healthcare system built on integrity and compassion; well that is something to be extremely optimistic about.