On my way home each day, I pass a place where folks go for free medical care. It’s not the kind of pristine facility that takes Medicaid, cash or some other form of payment from poor people. It is free. 100 percent. Doctors – some medical students and residents – volunteer their time and likely use limited supplies. I know this from my time as a reporter for the local paper.
I can always tell when the clinic is open, as there will be haphazard rows of dilapidated cars and dismal figures lined up outside of the place. These figures seem to be shadows of humanity, but part of humanity nonetheless. They have been forgotten.
Meanwhile, I have excellent health insurance. I have a medical condition that requires numerous perscriptions, regular visits to the doctor and – should the need arise – uninhibited access to an emergency room. I grumble about co-pays, deductibles and the cost of supplies that aren’t completely covered, but I also earn enough money to buy them. I have never gone without anything I’ve needed.
Which is why my heart breaks a little more each time I see that line of shadowy figures in front of the clinic. There is no doubt those who have a medical condition like mine go without. Sure, the clinic has a limited supply of medicine to offer those without money, but certainly some patients are examined, diagnosed and dismissed with a piece of paper that will never be dropped off at a pharmacy.
How do I rate?
I often drive past the clinic wondering this. What makes me so special that I never have to worry about getting the stuff that keeps me alive? I’m a terrible portrait of humanity – I’m miserable, lazy, and cannot be satisfied … what have I done in my life to show I deserve to continue living?
I have a job. I went to college. I do not have a criminal record. I was blessed with parents, teachers and friends who steered me in the “right” direction when I was young and impressionable, leading me to become the person who’s made the “right” decisions when it comes to my education and job.
Why does that apparently make me more deserving of life?
This is the world in which we live. This is the sort of question that goes unanswered in public. This is the kind of thing we pretend does not exist.
I keep driving until I am home.
I get on with my life.