I heard a story last week about a man who lived in my neighborhood. I didn’t know him, but word of mouth has spread his story throughout town.
John Smith(no, not his real name) had a job as a car detailer at a local auto body shop. Apparently no health benefits came with the job. He lived in a modest apartment in a small town. A large share of his earnings reportedly went toward making the support payments for his children.
John Smith had one common but dogged health problem—asthma. It seems that in order to honor his financial obligations to his children, he had no money left for his asthma medication. So he went without it.
John Smith was doing laundry when he collapsed. The ambulance was called, but he coded several times before reaching the hospital, only a mile away. He lingered for a few days before life support was terminated, and then died. John Smith was 51 years old.
Now the children that he labored to support have no father. For lack of a simple medication, my neighbor died. If I had known of his plight, I would’ve chipped in to help. Most people in town would have.
I don’t know if the current health plan holds the answer. I do know that in a compassionate society, no human being should die for lack of a common medication. I’m sure that Mr. Smith is only one of many.
We mourn the death of every battlefield soldier, and rightly so. But the untimely deaths of little-known, hardworking common folks are a tragedy as well.
I wish all of the finger-pointing, fist thumping politicians would meet with the Smith family. Maybe then they would really understand that health care policy is about much more than which side of the aisle wins and which side loses. When the debate disintegrates to that level, we all lose. John Smith lost everything.