I'm donating my garage full of giveaways tomorrow and I plan to spend the morning there, kibitzing with friends and setting appropriate prices for old baseball gloves and mismatched lamps. The day will be cheerful and friendly. I'm betting the kids will organize an overpriced lemonade stand. Maybe I'll even find a treasure (please someone donate a bike) to bring back to my newly purged garage. But behind the scenes of tomorrow's smiles and cordial banter, there is a terrified, hurt Mom, wondering how she's going to pay her health care bills-not to mention her mortgage-all while caring for her kids without the help of a partner.
If only she lived in Japan, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Norway, Taiwan or Sweden, she wouldn't have to pin her hopes on a neighborhood yard sale. Why is it that America doesn't register amongst the top health care systems in the world? Our sick are cared for conditionally. Could you imagine if we cared for our children the way our government cares for us? It would look like this:
That Owie's Gonna Cost You
A young mother and her son play cheerfully on a playground. Suddenly, the boy trips and falls. Tearful and pathetic, the little boy approaches his mother. She wears red shorts with a white tee shirt and blue wedge sandals. Her sunglasses on top of her head. She is the perfect picture of a mother.
BOY: (crying) Mommy! Mommy! I hurt my knee. It's bleeding! (At his own mention of blood, he progresses to hysteria.) I need a SpongeBob band-aid right now!
MOMMY: (embracing him) Oh Jimmy, honey. Let Mommy, see it. (She looks. It's bleeding. Rough Stuff). Oooo ... yes, that looks really bad. We should clean that up, and put some Neosporin on it. (In a faux baby voice) And you are right, Mister, you definitely need a band-aid. And probably some kisses and hugs too.
BOY: (still crying) Ok (sniff sniff).
MOMMY: (Her demeanor becomes professional) Let me see your insurance card.
BOY: My what?
MOMMY: I'm gonna need your Membership ID and Group Number. Are you in a PPO?
BOY: I'm in a Pre-K.
MOMMY: Are you pre-authorized for hugs and kisses?
BOY: (Calling off) Daddy?!
MOMMY: How many SpongeBob band-aids have you had this year? You may have met your quota?
BOY: I had one that time I hurt my finger on the fence and one on my other knee once and I had one for my cheek when I hit the coffee table and my forehead when I ...
MOMMY: And judging by the looks of it now, you could probably do without the Neosporin. Just rinse it off over there in that rusty water fountain and hopefully you won't get a secondary infection.
BOY: I don't know how to turn on the fountain.
MOMMY: Oh, well that's too bad. I think the fountain specialist is on vacation and is unavailable to see you for two weeks. Do you have a referral, I could probably get you seen the first week in July.
BOY: Mommy, my sock is bloody now.
MOMMY: That's a secondary injury. I won't be able to even think about that until we get this initial issue taken care of.
BOY: Mommy, I don't know what secondary means and you keep saying it.
MOMMY: Do you have insurance or not kid?
BOY: I have a rock in my pocket.
MOMMY: Ok, I tell you what, without proper insurance, I can help you, but you'll have to pay out of pocket.
BOY: (handing over his rock) Ok.
MOMMY: (re: the rock) Uh-uh. I don't think so, Buddy. There will be no dessert for a month, I will confiscate the contents of your piggy banks and I get to sleep with your blanky.
BOY: You don't like how my blanky smells.
MOMMY: This isn't about me. Do you want the band-aid or not?
BOY: (He nods and chokes back tears).
Mom pulls a red crayon and many forms out of her back pocket.
MOM: Ok, before I get started, I need you to sign this agreement.
BOY: My shoelaces are bloody.
MOM: Again, I'll remind you to stay focused. (She lays the forms out on the sidewalk). Sign here - here - here - and here.
BOY: How do I sign?
MOM: I'll sign for you since you're a minor.
BOY: Thanks, Mom.
As she signs the documents, a KID approaches the boy.
KID: Hey, are you ok?
BOY: No, my knee is bleeding.
KID: I have an extra band-aid. It's Scooby Doo.
BOY: I like Scooby Doo.
KID: Here. (He hands him a band aid).
KID: No problem. Bye.
MOM: (finished signing) Ok, all set!
BOY: I got a band-aid from that kid.
MOM: Oh. (Annoyed) Okaaaaay. Well ... if you want me to put it on you, I can.
BOY: Thanks, Mom. (He hands it to her).
MOM: In exchange for your tricycle. Now, c'mere and let Mama kiss it and make it better!
As the boy confusedly runs into his mother's arms, the lights fade to black.
There's a lady in my neighborhood who has a really bad owie. She lives in a country that seems to love her, until she needs something. They have exactly what she needs, and they know she really needs it, and they'll be happy to give it to her - so long as she gives them all her money.
So sure, are all the ladies in the neighborhood getting together to do their share and help get this lady as many goddamned band aids as she needs? Yes, we are. Should we have to? I don't think so.
Today I signed this petition for change - http://www.puttingpatientsfirst.net/petition/
Tomorrow I'll help throw a charity yard sale, for a lady I wish lived in Holland.