Have We Forgotten That We’re Connected?

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Have we forgotten that we’re connected?

We are inextricably connected, and this is for our benefit. But if we forget… if we begin to dismiss the needs of each another… if we begin to assume that some are invisible… if we impoverish each other… we will all suffer.

If we live primarily in these ways, in the end, we will all be diminished in one way or another.

We are connected.

What happens to me, affects you. What happens to you, affects me. What happens to our neighbor, affects all the neighbors.

This is simple, and maybe even simplistic, but have we forgotten?

I find myself thinking about this a lot in our current healthcare debates. It should matter to us that millions of people (24 million is the projection) could lose their healthcare. Quality of life will be diminished, and some may lose their lives outright.

This matters.

Because we are connected, it should matter to us that some of our neighbors are in danger. It should matter because our neighbors matter.

But also, do we think this will not affect all of us?

– If older adults or people with pre-existing conditions are priced out of the market (the AHCA would allow insurers to charge much more for these individuals) there will be less people paying into the system, and prices will rise for all of us.

– If younger adults change jobs and have a break in their coverage, they can face a penalty when they sign up for coverage again. (The AHCA would allow insurers to charge 30% more for these individuals during the first year of re-enrollment.) That means that some may choose not to sign up for coverage again because they cannot afford the penalty. When fewer people are paying into the system, prices go up for all of us.

– When people have to pay much more for medical care, they have less money for their other needs. This is a problem. They also have less money to donate to the causes that fund the aid of others.

– If Medicaid experiences a big reduction in funding, some will lose their insurance altogether, and when they have a health need, they will go to the emergency room. This means that hospitals will use charity care to pay for these services, and there will be less money available to do innovative patient care.

In my context, our state signed up for the Medicaid expansion through the ACA/Obamacare, and as a result, 650,000 previously uninsured individuals and families received coverage. This matters. These are our neighbors, and their health matters.

But it also affected all of us in positive ways. The year before the ACA/Obamacare went into affect, hospitals in Michigan spent $627 million dollars in charity care. Since the ACA/Obamacare, hospitals have seen this number reduced by more than $300 million per year.

That means that $300 million per year was freed up to increase healthcare quality and provide new services, benefiting the system as a whole, and by extension, all of us.

We are inextricably connected, and this is for a benefit. But if we forget… we could all lose.

Renee Roederer

See also, Losing Healthy Michigan Will Make Economy Sick and Answering Your Questions about the Republican Healthcare Plan.

These two radio segments provided the stats above.

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