SARAH SELTZER SEPTEMBER 27, 2017 3:30 PM
Since my baby was born a year and a half ago, my husband and I have watched the majority of our recent employers in the media industry either shut down, get sold, or drastically decrease their staff. We have switched back and forth to each others’ health insurance a few times, trying to maintain stability for our family.
Still, I go to bed every night worrying about insurance, especially that I am now a C-section mom, which means I have a pre-existing condition.
For women—and for all parents and primary caretakers—having the freedom to move careers or locations without losing our health care means something really big: we can choose when, if and how to start families—in ways we might not be able to imagine otherwise. And that’s something we should be talking about more.
These days when we talk about health care, we hear a lot about what is wrong (and scary, and terrible) about the status quo. We listen to frightening stories of sickness and tragedy, stories that don’t seem to melt any powerful hearts or change any influential minds—the Affordable Care Act repeal efforts are a zombie that won’t die. It’s critical that we have those conversations and shine a light on the people who need the most help.
But we’re so busy defending our position, that we don’t talk enough about what a different world could look like. Sometimes it feels impossible to even think that way. But it’s worth trying, for the glimmer of hope and the shot of positive energy it can give us.
But when I think about the concept of universal health care, I see a doorway to more freedom. It feels like a ray of sunshine has suddenly descended on my family’s future, and all of ours.
Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill, introduced this month, and which is getting support from all the major Democratic contenders for the 2020 race, offers us all this chance—a moment to think expansively, to imagine something radically different.
It allows us to ask the big questions: If you had guaranteed access to decent health care, what would you do differently with your life? Would you become an entrepreneur? An artist? Go live on a farm? Have a baby sooner, or later? Work on that rock opera or science experiment you’ve been dreaming about?
Or just do exactly what you do now, but with a little less anxiety?
Medicare for All, as it’s called by Sanders, is really what’s known as a single-payer plan. As NPR explains‑it would phase in a single system by lowering the eligibility for an expanded version of Medicare every few years until everyone is covered. The plan as proposed isn’t expected to pass—and the question of how it will be paid for remains a big one—but at least it’s offering us something we need: a vision that could really change our lives.