There is a raging fire of followers on Twitter that I am deeply passionate about supporting. These people love and believe in Bernie Sanders and his plan for a better America for ALL.
I am not American but I am married to one, and I have lived in the USA for over a decade. I have personally been affected by the current broken system that allows the poor, the needy, and the sick to be forgotten while the elite continue to live lives full of luxury and excess.
My story involves giving birth to a ‘micro preemie,’ that is, a baby born at less than 2 pounds. My child was born early due to preeclampsia, a disease that is neither exacerbated by anything I did wrong, nor treatable. My baby would have died had modern medicine not been able to induce his birth and keep him alive for me, and for this I will be eternally grateful.
But that 1lb 11oz (740 gram) baby required a skilled emergency team at his birth, and needed ongoing care for three long months in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) following his birth. The complicated birth and the following three months were really, really expensive, even though we had health insurance.
The USA system that allows a limitless 20% copay to be imposed on the vulnerable, the sick and the suffering, might be in my opinion, one of the most heinous crimes inflicted on the people by the US government and the medical insurance companies that pay them off.
Almost $200k out of our pockets and three months later, we were able to take home our still sickly baby who continued to require further treatment with specialists. This treatment came at exorbitant cost to a family who was already drowning under the weight of the price of his birth. Years later (while we were paying our new increased health insurance premiums of $1300/month), he reached his ‘lifetime limit’ and was discarded by the very insurance company who promised us that if we continued to pay their soul-crushing premiums, he would be protected.
Now we had a child who was sickly, had high ongoing medical needs, and we had no insurance, and no safety net (this was pre Obamacare). What is a family to do in this situation? We could not longer refinance our home in the event of further medical needs, we had already done that after exhausting our savings account to pay his NICU bill, and were mortgaged to the hilt. We couldn’t refinance our cars, that had been done to pay for his PICU stay some months after his NICU stay. No credit card companies would offer us more credit, we were maxed out from all the ongoing medical costs. We had exhausted the generosity of our caring family members who had helped us financially over the years, and there was simply no where else to turn.
What this middle class family did, every time our child needed a stay overnight in hospital, or months worth of expensive prescriptions, or support services to give him every chance at a normal life, was to start selling our jewellery, our furniture, our better clothing items and our family heirlooms.
When there was nothing left to sell, we went without. Without haircuts, without dental care, without a second child we wanted badly, without new underwear, without Birthdays, and Christmas, and gatherings with family and friends that would require us to bring a dessert, or a bottle of wine that just wasn’t in the budget. This is not something I’ve ever told anyone, frankly, it felt humiliating, as though we were somehow financially irresponsible.
Before this unexpected tragedy happened to our family, we considered ourselves ‘upper middle class’, but when the bills keep coming and you can no longer keep up with the onslaught of medical needs, and its your CHILD, what else is there to do?
Sadly, this is not a unique story, and it’s most certainly not even close to being the worst story you will ever hear, but it is wrong. It is a violation of our human rights, it is solvable and it is wrong.
And these are the reasons I will implore anyone who will listen, consider what Bernie Sanders has to say. Please consider those who are not as fortunate as you when you cast your vote because it’s the right thing to do, and because you are better than this.
And.. if for no other reason, consider voting for Bernie because one day it might be you having to give up your luxury cars and ski vacations to pay for your loved ones life-saving prescriptions. We never thought it could happen to us either.