Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My letter to Barack Obama about Health care in America

I am a 44 year old American in graduate school in Canada. I am seriously considering applying for citizenship there. The major justification for this decision would overwhelmingly be free health care.

Since I have been there I have not had to battle ANY health care request, whereas my experience in the United States has been quite the opposite. I have had wrist pain for the past 20 years. I have been to multiple doctors in the US. None of them ever addressed the issue without first suggesting pain killers as the solution. While the idea of relying on painkillers is good for the pharmaceutical industry, it is repugnant to me. I then retreated to alternative health care as so many Americans do. Alternative treatments brought me some success but the pain continued. Finally, in Canada, a doctor had a novel idea, a CT scan. I was finally correctly diagnosed, after 20 years with a broken scaphoid bone in my wrist.

I know that a small broken bone doesn't sound like a traumatic disease that has ravaged my life, but I have made major changes to my life because of it. I have been physically active all my life and there are many enjoyable activities and some jobs that I can no longer perform. It is also significant in that it is so small but yet for America so large and expensive.

I have an appointment this September with an orthopedic surgeon in Canada. I feel confident that if he thought he could repair my wrist with a costly surgery, there would be no obstacles in my way. Unlike his American counterpart who would gladly offer the surgery, but then I would have to figure out how to pay for it. In the US, I had to drop health insurance because the $500 per month was too high and my policy probably didn't cover it anyway, because it would have been a ‘preexisting condition.’

The irony of all this is that the injury happened while I was working my way through college in my 20's. I find it ironic because while contributing to the economy I was injured. I was too young to realize the implications of my injury. As an older man the pain from my wrist has a place at the table when decisions are made. I have to listen to it before I engage in certain activities and even certain jobs. Amazingly, even conservatives in Canada realize the importance of single payer health care. The irony continues because here I am at the peak of my ability to contribute to the economy but my country will not assist in my health, and a country not of my birth will gladly do what it is right. As I get older health increasingly becomes a top priority, so how can I resist an excellent opportunity that will insure my health into my golden years?


  1. Anonymous4:22 AM

    Sorry to hear about your wrist, but glad you are getting it straightened out! Also, Chris: this is an EXCELLENT letter, very well written, I hope Obama himself will read it. Thanks for posting. :-) -Kate

  2. Thanks Kate, It is so good to finally be able to express some opinions in an essay or letter. I really want to continue developing this skill.