As a resident of North America, I cannot stress enough how lucky my family and I were during this Covid-19 pandemic. Not only did we get the vaccines we were waiting for, we have not gotten infected and hopefully will not have it in the future. My husband and I have also not been laid off.
Sure, I do not own a house nor do I have a “comfortable” savings account like my friends here in the same age group. I cannot take my children on trips during the summer months or even a long weekend out of town. These are the usual signifiers of comfort as seen from the outside of the average family here.
Now, these external signifiers no longer hold the same importance to me. This pandemic has laid bare the ugly truth of having no health insurance. It is not enough to have a job that pays for your health needs. It has become clear that every person should be entitled to the very basic human right of universal health. Stories of friends back home tell of general anxiety on the thought of not only getting covid. The anxiety goes hand in hand with the financial cost of this illness.
The crowning achievement of my adopted country is its health insurance that is available for all residents.
Even if you do not have a job or have retired, we are all entitled to the same health benefits. This pool of funds that society itself pays for in the form of taxes ensures everybody who lives here permanently or who have work permits will not have to undergo the painful experience of a possible bankruptcy in the face of mounting hospital bills when you fall sick. It is wild just thinking of all the anxiety that I have bypassed.
But is it really? What if this were the norm, too, in the Philippines? Can it be done? The answers may be in the voters’ hands. If the demand gets louder that it cannot be ignored then it may be worth making all the noise.
In our lifetime, it may be possible to treat the poorest, the unemployed and the chronically ill with the same care afforded the rich. It is time to put this issue to the heart of any self respecting party as a major platform.
It’s time to demand for universal health care.