A friend of mine informed me the other day that she doesn't have to wonder how she will die. The government and insurance companies will kill her, she said.
She has lymphoma, one of those cancers that never really goes away.
Four years ago, when she last underwent chemotherapy, she paid a $40 co-pay per treatment.
That was it.
But her coverage has changed since then.
If she comes out of remission now, she will also be responsible for 20 percent of each treatment. That would put her and her husband into thousands of dollars of debt with both of them nearing retirement. She also has to worry about the lifetime cap on their insurance.
What if she exceeds it?
What will happen to him?
She can divorce her husband and let Medicaid pick up the tab, but that's a gamble.
Sick people have to be divorced for a certain number of years before the goverment will forgive the spouse of financial liability. If her cancer returned before the deadline, her husband would lose everything and, because they would be divorced, he would have no say in her medical care.
Sometimes, she said, she would rather just give up.
She would rather die.
This is the urgency that opponents to the health care bill do not understand.
Some people cannot wait.
While Republicans and Democrats were battling, people were dying.
President Obama's health care bill might not be a perfect solution, but it's a step in the right direction.
My friend still has decisions to make, painful decisions.
But, at the very least, this bill alleviates two of her concerns: there will no longer be a lifetime cap on health insurance; and, if her husband loses his job, they will not have to worry that her pre-exisiting condition will leave them with no health insurance.
If it hadn't passed?
She would probably give up, believing it was the selfless thing to do.
For her husband's sake.
While politicians bickered, she would die.