Permission to Live: How I lost my fear of Universal Health Care

A friend on G+ sent me this article, knowing I had planned on migrating to Canada a few years ago and taken according steps to actually make it happen (I had made sure of about 99% of everything pertaining to this, but overlooked the limitations my frail health would eventually pose on me…). In hindsight, not having seen this endeavour through on account of fears that my system wouldn’t adjust to the climate was the biggest mistake and poorest choice of my life ever and brought about circumstances and a general situation that brought me dangerously close to becoming homeless and getting my so far impeccable criminal record tainted due to identity theft and the crimes committed in my name. (For the record: I’m all cleared from any criminal allegations as prosecution was not able to link any of the crimes to my real persona, because I hadn’t committed them, of course!) In addition to all that, I was forced to use up all of my life’s savings including a modest inheritance I had received not too long before, declare bankrupcty, file for early retirement and welfare and undergo a humiliating, draining and overall outrageous process of relenting to the system in place in my country. I am still nourishing hopes that I can come around from all that, presuming I can get – largely medical – help in some areas that were poorly addressed so far and/or where I haven’t found the help I’d have needed for all of my life. (On a side note: I have to keep myself from thinking what my life could have been like had I found the relevant help earlier. Here’s where positive thinking needs to kick in or else I’d simply have to do myself in for reasons of a sometimes very bleek outlook, in particular where it relates to the options left in my country).

The article of course is from the perspective of a lady having become pregnant with her 3rd baby shortly before moving to Canada and assessing the pro’s and con’s of the health care system in her native country USA vs. her new place of residence in Canada. She points out how she had grown up in a strictly Republican/conservative/Christian household and how dear and significant a lifestyle of personal self-determination had become to her and how she had grown to appreciate being able to choose from a number of options without the government meddling in those choices of hers, in particular with regard to personal health care and more specifically with regard to the options of giving birth (in a clinical setting vs. at home, with or without midwife etc.). In short, she describes a complete change of her position on Universal Health Care vs. non-mandatory health care as it has been in place in the USA prior to President Obama’s healthcare reform act. And I couldn’t help but become a bit nostalgic upon reading this article. Because I grew up at a time and in a country, where many of the benefits she describes were available to every citizen or migrant here as well. In fact, many of the “borrowed work force”, who were woed by our governments during and after the so-called “Wirtschaftswunder” years, continued to live here and work at least part time in order to retain the medical benefits for themselves and their families living somewhere abroad. In other words: We were fully covered by a public health care system and noone had to be worried over missing out on vital health care for reasons of insufficient funding. It was a part of the social welfare state as I knew it from growing up in the 70ies and 80ies.

Sadly, only remnants of that are left today. There is an ever-growing number of working poor, who are unable to afford general health care for themselves or their families from not making enough money to cover the monthly premium. What is more, if you need treatment that might be considered rather “cosmetic” than vital, e.g. certain dental treatment, seeing or hearing aids etc., you are required to negotiate additional health insurance contracts in order to be covered. Such additional contracts can only come after a thorough check up on your previous medical history and may or may not be granted to the applicant. And needless to say that they come at sometimes substantial additional expense. If you are reading this and go “so what?”, I assume you have never known it any different. And in this case I’ll conclude that you can’t know, what you’ve been missing, much like this lady who expresses her sense of surprise to find that a universal, public health care system offers more benefits than limitations.

On a personal note: Reading this was a strong reminder that my 2007 decision to come back to my native country was an error of epic proportions. I hope, I am being given the opportunity to remedy that in some time. But it will require a series of “miracles” along with a gargantuan effort on my part. 😉

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