I don’t love to get all political (as I have mentioned in previous posts), but I just cannot stop thinking about what is happening right now in regard to healthcare. I am seriously stressing about my future and the future of my daughter.
In case you are unaware of what I’m talking about, today the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act with 217 votes. The Senate will vote next. Within this bill there is a section that allows insurers to deny health coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition. As I understand it, this is a very broad term. If you have depression, have been the victim of sexual assault, were born with a defect, or are pregnant, you have a pre-existing condition (and this isn’t even close to a comprehensive list) and can be denied coverage.
What troubles me the most about this plan is the thought of all the children who are born with, and/or develop defects or other health conditions. These children did nothing to deserve the hand they were dealt. And often times, neither did the parents. I never smoked or drank when I was pregnant. I exercised fairly regularly. I wasn’t near radiation while pregnant. I never fell, nor did I sleep on sides I wasn’t supposed to sleep on. I craved strawberries all the time and avoided the foods you’re not supposed to eat while pregnant. Taking all this into account, I should have had a healthy child. Instead, I had a beautiful child who needs some specialized care (which you can read about here). Her body is just not quite right. No one knows what causes children to have what my daughter has, but studies have shown that it is not linked to the mother’s actions (source). Sometimes children are born with imperfections and conditions, but that does not make them any less deserving of the medical care that is so often necessary for their survival.
There was a story told by Thomas S. Monson (President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) during his talk in the October 2010 General Conference that I will never forget. The story (which is a true story) was originally printed in a national magazine many years ago, but I will be quoting the story from his talk (which you can read here).
“A woman by the name of Mary Bartels had a home directly across the street from the entrance to a hospital clinic. Her family lived on the main floor and rented the upstairs rooms to outpatients at the clinic.
One evening a truly awful-looking old man came to the door asking if there was room for him to stay the night. He was stooped and shriveled, and his face was lopsided from swelling—red and raw. He said he’d been hunting for a room since noon but with no success. ‘I guess it’s my face,’ he said. ‘I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says it could possibly improve after more treatments.’ He indicated he’d be happy to sleep in the rocking chair on the porch. As she talked with him, Mary realized this little old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. Although her rooms were filled, she told him to wait in the chair and she’d find him a place to sleep.
At bedtime Mary’s husband set up a camp cot for the man. When she checked in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and he was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, he asked if he could return the next time he had a treatment. ‘I won’t put you out a bit,’ he promised. ‘I can sleep fine in a chair.’ Mary assured him he was welcome to come again.
In the several years he went for treatments and stayed in Mary’s home, the old man, who was a fisherman by trade, always had gifts of seafood or vegetables from his garden. Other times he sent packages in the mail.
When Mary received these thoughtful gifts, she often thought of a comment her next-door neighbor made after the disfigured, stooped old man had left Mary’s home that first morning. ‘Did you keep that awful-looking man last night? I turned him away. You can lose customers by putting up such people.’
Mary knew that maybe they had lost customers once or twice, but she thought, ‘Oh, if only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear.’
After the man passed away, Mary was visiting with a friend who had a greenhouse. As she looked at her friend’s flowers, she noticed a beautiful golden chrysanthemum but was puzzled that it was growing in a dented, old, rusty bucket. Her friend explained, ‘I ran short of pots, and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn’t mind starting in this old pail. It’s just for a little while, until I can put it out in the garden.’
Mary smiled as she imagined just such a scene in heaven. ‘Here’s an especially beautiful one,’ God might have said when He came to the soul of the little old man. ‘He won’t mind starting in this small, misshapen body.’ But that was long ago, and in God’s garden how tall this lovely soul must stand!”
And now I’m crying. This story always makes me cry because it reminds me so much of my sweet girl. And now, because we have been gifted such a precious soul, who was given a bit of a rusty bucket, we may not be able to give her the care she needs. What if the man in the story had been denied coverage for his condition? People would have missed out on the lessons he taught through his sweet spirit. I worry about the same thing for my daughter. I know, if given the opportunity, she will be able to touch people’s lives (because she already has and she’s just a baby).
Her condition is not her fault, nor is it mine. I guess if this bill passes my husband will have to start looking for jobs in states that will allow her coverage. Otherwise, we won’t be able to afford the multiple surgeries she will need as a child just to develop regularly. And starting in 2020 (again, assuming this passes), we may not see her covered by insurance anymore.
But it’s fine. I hope all the elected officials enjoy their stipulation-free healthcare.
(Just to end on a more positive note, here is another picture of my little lady. Ugh. I just love her so much.)