Health care as a basic human right

As I was thinking about which issue to write about first in this little series I’m attempting, I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed choosing which one to start with.  Well my daughter reminded me which I should choose: health care.  On Tuesday I got an email from my daughter’s day care saying she had vomited and wasn’t eating much.  Immediately, I left my office to go pick her up because all I could think was “here we go again.”  You see, my daughter has had a rough couple of months.  At the end of January she got a stomach virus, followed by pneumonia, followed by a second bout of pneumonia and an ear infection a month later.  Poor thing!  But then I remembered things were going to be ok.

My daughter is lucky.  She has health insurance.  Once I picked her up, I called a nurse who calmly talked me through what to do over the next 24 hours to make sure she stayed hydrated and got better.  Well it’s Thursday and she is getting better.  Turns out, she has three teeth coming in at the same time.  They seem to be doing a number on her.

Unfortunately, other parents don’t have the piece of mind I do.  There are many children who don’t have health insurance either because their parents work and can’t afford it or their job doesn’t offer it or because their parents are unemployed or because many states make it difficult to enroll or rather, stay enrolled, in Medicaid or their Child Health Insurance Program.  Their parents can’t call the doctor when their children are sick.  Instead, they ride their children’s illness out on their own until things get so bad they go to the ER.

I could put the stats out there about how important it is for children to have a regular source of care but the reality is when children don’t have regular access to health care, they suffer.  They are risk for little things like ear infections becoming bigger problems.  When they are sick, they can’t learn.  When they can’t learn, they can’t do well in school and that means they can’t provide for themselves when they get older.  You see, as much as we don’t treat health care as a basic human right, it certainly should be.  Today, I’m thankful that my husband and I are able to do that for our daughter.  I want the same for all children.

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