I live in Los Angeles—a place Dorothy Parker once called “12 suburbs in search of a city”—and while I enjoy my hometown, New York City is my favorite place on the planet. I am a huge fan of the city’s subway system because it allows you to interact with all segments of the population. It occurred to me on a recent visit to the Big Apple that Manhattan’s subway system is just like the health care system I dream of—equal access for all at a fair price.
I am in New York several times a year for work, so it made sense to have a doctor there. But cost has become a factor. I am self-employed, so I pay for my health care out of my pocket. My co-payments are higher than those offered through group insurance policies. And even though it’s expensive, I don’t have much choice but to keep paying. But I can’t keep this up forever. Without quality health care that is affordable and accessible, I have no future. And without the possibility of a future, I don’t have a reason to dream—and I have a lot to dream about.
Several years ago, I spent time in a hospital. While there, I made a bargain with God. I said, “God, just keep me alive long enough to see my nephew’s graduation and that will be enough.” Today, I have four of the most wonderful nephews. So, I want to renegotiate that initial bargain. I want to see all of my nephews graduate. I’m asking God for more time. And to have more time, I’m going to need the help of a health care system that works.
Health care has become one of the most pressing issues of our time; it is a deal-breaking issue for many voters in the upcoming presidential election. As a person with AIDS, I have no choice this November. Senator Barack Obama supports a universal, affordable and portable health care system. Senator John McCain proposes a plan that falls far short of universal health care. If McCain were to get elected, individuals with pre-existing conditions (read: people with HIV/AIDS) would join a state-created nonprofit that would provide them a chance to purchase insurance—a situation that sounds very similar to the current Medicare system, one that is far from perfect.