Goeun Park: Everyone’s right to universal health care
Last week, I got a flu shot. It was pretty amazing.
I realize that I am being silly. People get flu shots all the time. Yet, it was a momentous occasion. The last time I got a flu shot was during the H1N1 hysteria years ago, and that was only because they were giving them out for free in the high school gym.
I’m sure everyone’s sick of hearing me gush about how great college is and how much I like it but this needs to be said. One of the absolute greatest things about being here is that I’m under the school’s student health insurance plan. Comprehensive health insurance for students is more mandatory than special, but I continue to find it delightful.
Growing up, I usually didn’t have health insurance. It’s a long and boring story as to why that was the case, but the point is that it wasn’t a fun experience.
Unfortunately, being uninsured is not that uncommon — in 2012, more than 47 million non-elderly Americans, mostly low-income minority families, were uninsured. That’s about 15 percent of the population.
Before my student insurance kicked in, my to-go doctors were Google and WebMD. I dismissed check-ups and preventative measures as something only affluent people could afford. It’s been years since I’ve been to the dentist.
When I got sick, I didn’t go to the doctor but went to school and simply hoped I got better.
(In retrospect, that was a horrible idea — sick students should stay at home and rest instead of hacking their contagious germs around like I did. The free T-shirt at the end of the school year for perfect attendance is cool, but it isn’t worth getting 10 other people sick.)
As someone who cares a lot about public health, I want to make it clear that I support universal health care. I think everyone (and I do mean everyone, even the annoying boys who thought it was funny to snap my training bras in elementary school — you know who you are) should have access to basic health coverage.
It’s not my intention to alienate anyone and I hope I don’t sound like a crazy radical, but if I do…well. I’m sorry that we don’t agree. I’m sure you have your reasons, and I respect that.
I just don’t quite understand.
I know that the current Affordable Care Act is a heated political issue and that it still has a lot of problems and that it’s going to raise taxes and add to the deficit and possibly be the end of democracy as we know it.
I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to the economy, but I do know that I’ll be paying taxes for the next 50 years, long after everyone in Congress fighting over the issue right now are dead and gone.
Despite all that, I’m convinced that universal health care is worth investing.
Am I being too idealistic? I’m adult enough to understand that paying taxes isn’t fun. I can understand that it’s not fair to a lot of people who already have great health insurance that they’ll have to cover the 15 percent who can’t afford any otherwise. Trust me, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking all the ways it wasn’t fair that I was in that 15 percent.
But it’s not about what’s fair and what’s not. Fairness is an awfully relative standard. After all, women’s suffrage wasn’t fair for the men who suddenly had to compete with a 100 percent increase in voters. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 wasn’t fair for the millions of white people who were raised in a segregated society. The anti-trust laws of the early 20th century weren’t fair for business corporations.
But they were right, and I think that giving everyone the means to be healthy is the right thing to do.
Goeun Park graduated from Detroit Lakes High School and attends college in California.