Labor Day this year has taken on a new meaning to me. While I certainly appreciate every single person who we honor today for their contribution to the workforce, I am very troubled about a growing concern among many who are currently working either for someone else or for themselves. And it is a growing matter that is haunting many here in the United States and one of the reasons that I believe is the cause for a growing divide between the rich and poor and a disappearing middle class. This matter is health care insurance.
If you talk to some of the older members of the workforce, they are working longer and harder for less pay just to hold on to their insurance coverage. This often includes prescription coverage and vision care as well. Even speaking to younger people who would like to make a career change or those who are having a tough time finding a job, medical insurance is one of the main reasons for staying in a current position or taking any sort of job that offers insurance coverage. However, even if they would like to retire or make a career change or move on to start a new business, it is very likely that they are financially unable to do so because of the cost for healthcare that they would have to pay. We all are aware that if you work for a large company, you get major breaks in the cost of healthcare for yourself and family members because of group buying by the business and often an employer contribution that may cover all or at least a portion of the premiums. But as an individual or for those with families, the costs are often financially prohibitive even with the current Obamacare (officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) offerings.
I am a two-time breast cancer survivor with no previous medical conditions and fortunately, no subsequent medical expenses other than annual exams. However, I have assessed what my costs may have been if I did not have an insurance plan through my employer that provides excellent coverage even when I opted for a choice that necessitated the least amount of co-payments for my treatment. Bottom line, it would have been financially devastating and this is what many cancer patients and those with other major and long-term medical conditions will face. This is the reason that many treatable conditions go undiagnosed because people can't afford to pay for the costs of tests and/or treatment. And this is completely unacceptable in this day and age in a country that is as financially wealthy as ours.
So this Labor Day as we honor all of the hard-working Americans, I would like for more thought and action to be given to what we might be able to do in order to change the work experience for many from being forced to stay in a current position to being able to make a change or secure new employment on terms that are not restricted by the prohibitive costs of medical coverage. This can be accomplished and I don't think that there is a better way to honor those who work so hard to keep our country as the best place in the world in which to live.