By now, you’ve probably seen Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue from last night’s show. If you haven’t, watch the clip above.
Like Kimmel, I have a son with a preexisting and life-threatening condition. We get the kind of medical statements that don’t make sense, with staggering costs. After watching the video, I clicked through some of our EOBs (explanation of benefits) to remind myself what life would look like without access to health insurance. First up, $3,000 for the first of a series of shots he needed once a month through the winter, next, a piece of medical equipment that costs $500 — I quit before I got to a stay in the pediatric ICU.
Before the medical community knew more about how to treat my son’s disease, the life expectancy hovered around elementary school. Now, the median life span in the U.S. is 40.6. In Canada, the land of single-payer health care, it’s 50.9. Ten years. Another decade to hope your child might live, for your child to hope he might live. According to the New York Times, the reason is probably simple: insurance access.
There’s not a lot to say beyond what Kimmel said. “No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen.” The only part I take issue with is what he said next: “Not here.” I think I know what he meant: We’re a rich, selfish nation with a mind-boggling amount of citizens and politicians who don’t want to share that wealth with people who are poor, sick, or both. No parent should have to decide if they can afford to keep their child alive — not here, not anywhere.