Sighing, I set my iPhone down last night at 12:30am, exhausted. The House hadn’t voted yet, and it was looking like I would have to simply read about the outcome first thing in the morning. As Mark and I lay in bed, we discussed what this vote, this monumental decision, would mean; and not just to me, either, but to the entire country. I reminded him that my own father and two brothers had no healthcare cover of any kind, and I don’t think he knew Ben and Chris were completely unprotected.
Thinking aloud, Mark made the comment that, should anything ever happen to one of my brothers, it would completely bankrupt the family in order to pay the medical expenses. I began to cry. It was a fact I guess I had always known: healthcare is costly, and the money wasn’t going to fall from the sky should one of them (God forbid) ever end up in the hospital for something serious. Mom could lose her home (something that couldn’t happen to my dad seeing how the bank foreclosed on our childhood home two years ago. Capitalism rules! /sarcasm), and my family as a whole could end up with a debt they were unable to pay back. It was another one of those moments where I truly felt the 6000 mile difference, and the helplessness that I would not be able to help or fix that kind of problem should it arise.
And I was angry. So many people were so opposed to the idea of, *gasp*, healthcare for the masses, for the poor, for the young and for the unemployed. So many people are so caught up in themselves they cannot comprehend how their ignorant opinions and worthless votes affect everyone else. I wondered how so many people could be caught up in a delusion that this was somehow bad.
There is a word for this feeling in German (as my good friend Alicja was able to remind me): weltschmerz. It means “world sadness” or, more specifically, the depression one can feel because there is a huge gap between the existing world and an ideal world. This was exactly what I was feeling. Sadness because my own family was to be vastly affected by the outcome, sadness because the US has the second highest infant mortality rate out of all industrialized nations due to adequate healthcare not being available for the poor, sadness because so many Americans had given into the fear mongering and were actually wanting the bill to fail, despite healthcare reform being in their own best interests.
But when I woke up this morning, grabbing my phone and pulling up the latest news, I was relieved. Tears streamed down my face and all I could muster was, “holy fuck, it passed!”
It’s not universal healthcare, or free healthcare, but it is a step in the right direction. Now people will be able to have access to insurance policies that are affordable based on their income. They will be given insurance through their employers regardless of how many hours they work (Fuck Walmart). Prescription drug costs stand to be cut by 50% for the poor. Now, young adults will be able to remain on their parents’ insurance policies up to the age of 26… which may mean my brothers could now be covered under my mother’s insurance. It means taking the power away from the large insurance corporations, and no longer allowing them to force people to make the decision of whether to live or die based on which they can afford to do, no longer capitalizing on human life.
I find it ironic that, at one point during the debate, a republican rep stood up and shouted “baby killer!” while Bart Stupak was speaking. Isn’t being against healthcare reform in an of itsself being a “baby killer?” Annually, 2 million babies die within the first 24 hours of life due to a single crime: their mothers are poor and cannot afford healthcare. So technically, aren’t all of those republicans and the few spineless democrats who voted against the bill “baby killers?”
And for all the money people dump into the current healthcare system, it is a proven fact other countries with universal healthcare spend LESS and cover all citizens:
A system that costs US taxpayers 2.2 TRILLION dollars per year:
And still leaves 1/6 of all citizens with no cover at all:
I find myself very, very grateful to be under the UK system of healthcare during my pregnancy. I am receiving excellent care and I am not going into debt just to have my baby. The healthcare reform plan will take years to fully execute, but each and every day from here on out things will begin to change, and this bill is a blessing to so many millions of Americans in the US. It gives us hope that things could still turn around and get better, and perhaps we can still save our middle class from disappearing under the crushing force of greedy capitalism. Healthcare is the first step.
Yes we can!
Links worth reading:
Random photos I’ve saved over the last couple years, posted for your enjoyment/horror.
Somehow it is hard to believe that I am now more than halfway through the pregnancy! It seems like just yesterday we found out (on Mark’s birthday, nonetheless!) and now here we are, I am starting to get a proper bump and Little Doodle, at 22 weeks, now weighs a whole pound!
We went in for the 20 week scan extremely excited to not only see Little Doodle on screen again, but to also finally find out the gender of our baby. Despite many attempts by the ultrasound tech, we couldn’t see what Little Doodle was packing: the baby’s legs were firmly crossed. Not only that, but through the entire ultrasound Little Doodle had it’s hands up in front of it’s face, covering it! Thankfully, the scan did confirm the baby was healthy and progressing nicely, even if we have a very stubborn baby! We have one more scan at 34 weeks to try again for the gender. I could be wrong, but I get the feeling it’s a boy!
Little Doodle is getting stronger every day. What used to be a question of “Was that a kick? Was it gas? Am I imagining things?” is now a very definitive KICK. And Little Doodle loves to kick. Sometimes it’s marathon kicking (usually of my bowel or bladder… which is hella comfortable) for several hours before taking a break. But for as often as he IS kicking, it stops suddenly whenever Mark puts a hand on my tummy to try and feel. EVERY time! Then, shortly after Mark removes his hand, Little Doodle begins again. Difficult baby!
I’m feeling less tired and less hungry all the time than I did in the first trimester, which is good. I’m no longer falling behind on my schoolwork due to the tiredness. I’ve been busily burning through my holiday time at work before I go on maternity leave and I’ve got enough left to have a day off nearly every week until mid June! Which I plan on utilizing in that manner. I can’t go anywhere as the Home Office still has my passport and visa application (a rant for another entry) and it doesn’t roll over to the next year so… why not??
The maternity benefits in the UK are really awesome. For starters, everything is free. Doctor and midwife visits, hospital tests and scans, the birth of the baby, and the home visits conducted for weeks after the birth… all cost nothing. On top of that prescriptions and dental visits are also free to pregnant women during the pregnancy and, I believe, up to a year after the birth.
My maternity leave from work will be 39 weeks. Weeks 1-14 will be at 100% of my normal pay, and weeks 15-39 will be at SMP (statutory maternity pay), which is about 50% of my normal pay. There is no pay after the 39th week, but women in the UK can have as much as a year off and still be legally entitled to return to their job. I will then probably tack about two weeks of my holiday onto the end of my leave, giving me 41weeks with Little Doodle.
Socialized healthcare = awesome.
What this also means is I will be on maternity leave over the Christmas holiday, allowing me to spend longer than average in the US with family. I’ve already got my plane tickets booked, Little Doodle included, and I am staying for three weeks!
Sometime in the coming week I will get the ultrasound scanned and post it to my blog.