The problem with living in a country that does not offer some sort of basic healthcare option to all of its citizens is that “life” (as in, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”) becomes a privilege for the rich, not one of the inalienable rights on which America was founded.
Case in point: A friend of mine, an amazing poet/performance artist/activist (and, incidentally, contributor to the excellent book, Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class–you can see the first two pages of her moving piece here.) is, at this point, fighting for her life. It seems pretty likely that she has late-stage lyme disease, which has a pretty scary prognosis if left untreated.
I’m pretty sure I’m not at liberty to tell the whole gory story of how she’s been treated at county hospitals and what options–the ones that would be obvious to most of us, like seeing top specialists–are closed to her because of finances. I think I can probably disclose that she’s been kicked off her insurance, and now has to cover things (including, probably, some things she underwent on the assumption that she had insurance) out of pocket.
She’s pretty disabled at this point, in pain, and things are getting worse.
What she needs is, it seems, an aggressive treatment of specific antibiotics, ideally paired with some “alternative” therapies with a good track record. The problem is, she can’t necessarily afford even the basic antibiotic treatment. And if she isn’t treated–well, none of us want to think about what that might mean.
So we’re raising money. If the government won’t help make sure that this person has adequate medical care, perhaps her community can. She’s finally consented to putting a PayPal button on her LiveJournal–it’s here. If you have any ability to help this woman get well, please avail yourself of the opportunity. Pikuach nefesh–saving lives–is the mitzvah for which we are permitted to violate most other mitzvot, after all.