It started out innocently enough.
My students were gathered for morning meeting at the carpet, ready for the daily announcements. I pulled out a box and explained the school was fundraising Pennies for Patients. Now, to be fully transparent, I’m not even entirely sure the money raised for this drive goes to patients, its name just makes it sound that way. But, before I knew it, our conversation somehow turned into a Q&A on access to healthcare in our country.
“But, Mrs. M, I don’t get it. Why doesn’t everyone have access to medical treatment? That doesn’t seem fair.”
A lot of eager nodding. Many students gave hand signals showing a connection to not having access to medical care. One student, a tough boy with a big heart, told the class about an upcoming surgery he will undergo and how his family is saving money for that. Another student appeared in class the next day with a patch over her eye and insisted on sharing a story of how her doctor refused to treat her the night before because of a conflict between her public and private insurance policies. Emergency care was out of the question.
It’s hard to explain to children why not everyone has access to affordable healthcare. To them, it just does not seem fair. And, I have to say, listening to their stories, I have to agree. Plenty of people will say kids have easy access to medical coverage, but I can tell you it’s not always that simple. We live in a country with a pretty confusing healthcare system.
What I find most surprising, however, is how many people do not see healthcare as a basic human right. I’m sure some of you reading this right now disagree with me. Friends of ours have full-heartedly disagreed with me. It’s just challenging to look into the faces of 30 wonderful human beings and come up with a good reason why any of them should have trouble receiving prompt, affordable, quality healthcare.