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The necessity of universal health care has become a very personal issue for me. Two years ago, my then 16 year old niece had kidney failure--her family didn't have health insurance. A year ago, she experienced a failed kidney transplant and was in the hospital most of the summer (accruing enormous hospital bills which, again, would not be paid by insurance since she had a pre-existing condition). She pulled through, managed to graduate from high school, and is currently waiting a three-way exchange of kidneys that will involve her mother donating a kidney to someone else while my niece will get a kidney from a complete stranger. Because my brother and his wife are educated, understand systems, and dogged in their determination to get help in paying the medical bills, I think their family is going to be okay. However, they have had to expend a lot of energy worrying in addition to doing a lot of paperwork to make sure the bills are paid.

Moreover, my favorite neighbor, a single mother who works part-time, has to worry about paying for expensive prescriptions to treat a thyroid condition. Her insurance company wants to use an alternative drug instead of the medication that has proven successful in her treatment.

I don't understand why anyone would think that either of these conditions is acceptable. All human beings should have access to treatment for illness; health care should not be available only for those who have enough money to afford it.

I recently read an article which cogently articulates what the U.S. can learn from other countries. It's worth your time to read:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/21/AR2009082101778.html?referrer=facebook