Health care a necessity

November 09, 2013

Times Argus


In 2004, at the age of 57, I gave up my health insurance because I could no longer afford the premium. I lived without medical care of any kind, hoping that I would survive until 65.

When I finally qualified for Medicare, I found a doctor. He sent me for all the screening tests that recently had been added as part of preventive care for Medicare patients. During the last test, cancer was detected.

Even though I had Medicare, I did not have gap insurance, and so there were many aspects of my diagnosis and treatment that were not fully covered. For example, my portion of the cost of the test that identified my cancer was approximately $700.

My story is an all too common one. For many people, health care is the one necessity we must do without, since we have to eat, pay the electric bills, put roofs over our heads and put gas in our cars. Many people in my situation, with either no insurance or high deductibles, are forced to wait too long to seek care. They end up in an emergency department, when symptoms have occurred, and are diagnosed too late.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones; having gone through both surgery and chemotherapy in the past year, my prognosis is good.

Everyone should have access to health care, and one should contribute what one can reasonably afford. Health care is everyone’s problem, whether one is healthy or not, young or old.

Vermont is on the path to creating the first ever publicly financed health care system in the nation, starting in 2017. There are still many important parts of this new system that need to be decided, and your voice matters. Get involved with the fight for universal health care, in whatever way is comfortable for you. To find out more information about the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign, go to

Edie Bell-Brown

East Burke