“Texas Jim,” as his friends called him, worked on a house framing crew making $18 an hour ($37,000 a year). He was able to support a wife and two little boys. They lived in a rental house with a small yard and shared a family car. Jim’s wife supplemented the family’s income by watching a couple of babies in the home.
Jim’s employer couldn’t afford health insurance for the framing crew. Texas Jim and his wife looked into insurance options, but the cost for basic nothing-special coverage was way too high. It would have claimed more than one third of the family’s income for premiums, not to mention deductibles and co-pays.
Then came that Saturday when Texas Jim was putting boxes in the attic. He lost his balance and fell through the ceiling, breaking his right leg in two places. He went to the emergency room, where they set the leg and braced it. The attending physician told Jim the break was complicated and he needed to see a specialist. The bill for the ER visit was a staggering $2200, which the family didn’t have. They set up payments.
Texas Jim talked to his boss about the broken leg and the need for further treatment. The boss liked Jim and valued his work. He encouraged him to heal up and return to the framing crew. As a show of support, the boss told Jim he could provide half-pay for two weeks.
The orthopedic specialist told Jim there would be a need for surgery and a few months of physical therapy. Without treatment, he would have chronic pain and limited use of the leg. The cost for surgery and physical therapy, without health insurance, was estimated to be around $25,000. For Jim, that cost was completely out of reach. The freedom to work a good paying job was gone.
There are millions of hardworking Americans like Texas Jim who don’t have health insurance. They support families, pay taxes, and contribute economically to their communities. What happens when serious illness strikes? Back injury, cancer, a broken leg, and severe depression are just a few problem with the potential to interfere with employment. Sadly, the most common reason given by the poor for being unemployed is illness or disability.
Healthcare is a freedom issue. Without it, the door to work a good paying job can become suddenly closed. It is time for our nation to provide Medicare for all.
Medicare is divided into two parts. Part A covers hospitalizations and home healthcare. That’s free. Part B requires a reasonable monthly premium and covers doctor visits, therapies, tests, and medications. There are deductibles and co-pays attached. Some people opt for an additional layer of coverage, known as Medigap insurance. This is a private healthcare insurance that can expand Medicare coverage and limit out-of-pocket expenses.
Medicare for all promotes the freedom to continue working a good paying job when faced with illness or injury. It’s made up of layers of cost and care, depending on what a person can afford. It works within our current healthcare system.
Freedom always wins.