Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

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Donna Smith

Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation

December 2nd, 2013 8:03 PM

Waking Up in Strange Places -- Eight Moves in Seven Years

Medicare for all, single payer health reform, health and income insecurity, Obamacare, ACA

The first move I remember was when we moved from 483 East Merle Lane in Wheeling, IL, to 801 North Princeton in Arlington Heights, IL, when I was 9 years old. It was Thursday, March 21, 1963. I was terrified to move. And when I woke up the first morning in our new house, I was startled and afraid until I got my wits about me and remembered where I was -- our new home.

Housing insecurity is one of the things that follows for those of us who go bankrupt for health care in America. If someone had told me in 2006 that I would move eight times in the seven years that followed, I would have called them crazy. But that is what has happened. Because we were broken financially by the health care system, I have had to be willing to do whatever it takes to make a living, keep us covered for our health care needs, and finally to try to make a decent home for us. Our final run as homeowners ended in 2004 when Larry needed more surgery and when I was recovering from one of my own cancer runs. We sold that modest home in South Dakota to pay off bills and stay afloat. That was pre-bankruptcy. we were trying to avoid going belly up by selling everything we could.

Anyway, since then, we've moved and moved and moved. We renters are sometimes like nomads, and we are often at the mercy of landlords who are less than decent to us even during our deepest times of personal stress. Now when I wake in a new and strange place, I just try to be grateful I woke up and that I have a place to wake up. I know lots of people around the country who are struggling with health issues and costs who aren't at all sure where they will be living.

So, Larry and I have each other. Always. We are the only two people who know the individual steps of this journey that has taken us from South Dakota back to Colorado, off to Chicago and then Washington, D.C., and finally back here to Colorado again. We know we made the decisions we had to make at the times that we made them, and we always have made our moves in hopes that we can stay put for a while -- a long while.

Poverty, income insecurity, health issues, housing insecurity and other working class issues have made our lives a bit more complicated. But in all of that upheaval and uncertainty, every time I have opened my eyes to a strange, new location, I have done so with the commitment Larry and I share to the unending hope that we can achieve health care as a human right -- a single standard of high quality care for all through an improved and expanded Medicare for all for life model. We do not want our kids and grandkids to face what we have at the hands of the greedy U.S. health care system. That work has become our home in a much more concrete way than any four walls ever could.

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." Helen Keller
______________________________

December 2, 2013 -- Today's count of the health care dead and broke for profit in the U.S.:

The 2013, to date, U.S. medical-financial-
industrial -complex system dead: 41,725
The 2013, to date, U.S. health care system bankrupt: 659,720** These figures are calculated based on the Harvard University studies on excess deaths in the U.S. due to lack of insurance coverage or the ability to pay for needed health care, and the Harvard University study that calculated the high percentage of personal bankruptcies attributable to medical crisis and debt in the U.S. 123 people die daily due to lack of coverage or cash to pay for care; 1,978 go bankrupt every day due to medical crisis and debt though the majority had insurance at the time their illness or injury occurred. This statistic is also based on the 1.2 million bankruptcies in the U.S. in 2012, according to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and calculating those medically-related bankruptcies from that number.http://www.healthcareforallcolorado.org/endorse_right_to_health_care

To follow Donna "American SiCKO" Smith's blog: http://donnasicko.blogspot.com/

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