Coverage morally, monetarily right

I cannot begin to express my heartfelt gratitude for the help my sister-in-law recently received at Providence Everett Medical Center under the care of Dr. Sanford Wright. She was in the hospital for nine days and two surgeries to treat a severely herniated disc and is finally on the road to recovery at home.

The clincher: She has no health insurance. She was laid off from her job at Bayside Marine when the economy took a nosedive and lost her insurance coverage. Thanks to the generosity of the Philanthropic Educational Organization, she was able to enroll in the phlebotomist certification program at Everett Communicy College. She was working on this certificate when her back injury occurred.

Thank goodness the care was available to her, but who will have to pay for it? Uncompensated care is listed as one of the top four reasons for hospital layoffs, with PEMC expecting to pay $70 million in uncompensated care this year (see www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/4-top-reasons-hospital-layoffs/2011-09-14). Also, uncompensated care adds over $1,000 a year to a typical family insurance policy. But, of course, when a person is incapacitated by injury, failing to provide rehabilitative care is simply not an option in a moral society.

Think about this: The freedom we cherish so dearly in America is not the freedom to be left alone or ignored. It is the freedom to live, to act, to work, and to participate in the good life. When a health crisis deprives someone of this freedom, we have a responsibility as a society to see to it that this freedom is restored. I may be free to sit at the table of plenty, but if I have no arms, then I’m going to need your help to eat. “Equal access to health care for all” is the battle cry of true freedom — whatever it takes.

Jim Strickland

Everett