Julie Sokolow is a musician, writer, and filmmaker based in Pittsburgh, PA. She is the creator of the Healthy Artists documentary series, in which young creatives discuss their struggles with the American health care system.
Over 20 million Americans pursued education at colleges and universities in 2012. Many were aspiring writers – crafting manuscripts, researching texts, attending classes, and studying for exams, while juggling unpaid internships, part-time jobs, and day-to-day living. Some broke a sweat to graduate summa cum laude. In this economy, what percentage will be able to find jobs that correspond to their training? What percentage will be able to afford health care after graduating?
Claire Donato is an award-winning 26-year-old poet living in Brooklyn, NY. In 2010, she achieved an MFA at Brown University, where she was the first poet to ever win the John Hawkes Prize in Fiction. Her debut novel Burial was recently published by Tarpaulin Sky Press and named among the “Best Summer Reads 2013” by Publishers Weekly. In a cut-throat literary world, Donato is a rare champ whose hard work has been rewarded. So it may seem.
After graduating from Brown, Donato started to teach at an intensive summer writing program at The New School. While instructing five hours a day, five days a week, working part-time as a research assistant, and writing her novel in the remaining hours, she caught a severe bout of pneumonia.
“At first I thought it was a summer cold,” Donato said. “ I foolishly put off going to the doctor, because I was uninsured and lacking funds at the time.”
When a friend finally convinced her to see a doctor, an x-ray revealed an abscess in her lung. The medical bills added up fast. A single bottle of medicine cost over $200. Within a week, she had spent over $1,000 on appointments and medicine.
“The irony of this situation is that, had I been insured, I would’ve gone to a doctor’s office the moment I came down with an abnormal cough,” Donato said.
The experience caused Donato to reflect on a different system: French universal health care. As a teenager, Donato came down with chicken pox while visiting family abroad. She remembers being amazed by the efficiency of the French health care system.
“I saw a doctor, received medicine, and we did not have to pay anything, thanks to the country's government-owned and operated clinics,” she said. “I grew up believing every citizen should have equal access to health care—that this is a human right.”
Obamacare should help Donato and other Americans access the insurance they need. Under the Health Insurance Marketplace launching October 1st 2013, we can shop and compare plans more easily, and apply for significant subsidies. Greater access to insurance will help everyone get better treatment, so that a persistent cough doesn’t turn into a pneumonic disaster.
However, Obamacare upholds the profit motive in health insurance. We’ll continue to spend more on health care than any other country in the world, while leaving some people uninsured. The simple solution is single-payer universal health care – a system that would save America $350 billion a year in administrative costs and use those savings to cover everybody.
January 28th, 2014
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January 21st, 2014
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December 18th, 2013
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December 14th, 2013
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November 9th, 2013
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September 10th, 2013
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July 30th, 2013
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September 11th, 2010
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December 14th, 2010
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May 12th, 2011
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November 22nd, 2011
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September 22nd, 2011
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December 16th, 2010
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November 2nd, 2010
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