Everyone deserves to have health insurance

By Kenneth Kowald

During my youthful days, I played stickball, Chinese handball, softball and handball. As I grew older, these activites became less and less, until they were no more.

As I used to tell questioners: “I have two forms of exercise. Walking and jumping to conclusions.”

The second is still with me. The first is almost completely gone. Ah, to be in the Seventh Age of Man!

In my salad days, I would and could walk about two miles on occasion—to meet my wife, Elaine, for dinner and a Broadway show, or something at Lincoln Center. I was officially at work until 5:15, but I managed to make it in time, even though I came from the Union Square area.

I remember once that I made another after-work visit to the Columbus Circle area and, because I was early, I decided to walk to the World Trade Center, for a reception at Windows on the World. I got there in time.

These excursions come back to me, as I have been in the hospital, for short visits, twice this spring. I have visited many doctors and I have been in physical therapy. The second stay was after I fell at home. No bones broken, or other damage, as far as I know, but it had to be checked out.

Since we moved from Richmond Hill we have had a new set of doctors, all of them excellent, in my opinion and, above all, caring.

We are also very near two fine hospitals, North Shore/LIJ and St. Francis. We have used both, but mainly St. Francis. The care in both is very good, indeed.

These last stays have caused me to think about my health care and Elaine’s. When I was a pre-adolescent, we had two doctors who made house calls in Borough Park. Good guys. When we moved to Elmhurst, our doctor (who made house calls) had an office on Van Horn Street, near my elementary school. A refugee from Nazi Germany, he was a very kind and caring doctor—and a good one. After several decades as a public member of the NYS Board for Professional Medical Conduct, I think I have a fair idea about good, not so good and bad doctors. There are some of the last and many in the top category.

I believe that everyone in this country—the richest in the history of the world—should have the kind of care we receive. Since the Affordable Care Act began working, more than 11 million Americans have enrolled in it. After a bumpy start, I think that most people would at least concede that it has been a success.

Elaine and I are fortunate, in many ways. We have Medicare. Shouldn’t everyone? It works. I receive a decent pension from my last employer. Each month, money is subtracted for secondary health coverage (quite good), prescription drugs (very good) and dental care. In the last case, since our dentist is not in the network, the coverage is not as great as it might be, but still….

But how many more need health insurance in the United States? Too many tens of millions, as far as I know. Are they getting the kind of health care I believe everyone should have?

I fear not. Indeed, if media reports are correct, I know they do not.

As I recover from two short stays in St. Francis, I can’t help wondering: Why not?

The answers lie—I believe—with all Americans.

It is a consummation devoutly to be wished, don’t you think?

Je Suis Charlie

Please see my blog, No Holds Barred, at TimesLedger.com.

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