Sunday, May 31, 2009

Health Care Lotto: Is Your Number Up?

I'm going to come clean right off the top: I grew up Canadian. And people north of the border are born into this world believing that health care is a human right.
Now that my newly unemployed state has made the fear of losing my health coverage very real, I'm getting a taste of the dark side of the American dream. The waking-up-at-3 a.m.-panic of staring into an abyss that's new to me.
So the specter of the state of Washington getting ready to boot 36,000 working poor people off its basic health care plan in the depths of a recession makes me just plain mad.
Smart, well-educated state legislators approved these cuts. Smart, well-educated state officials are now debating the "best" way to do the deed -- called "involuntary dis-enrollment." (Where do they come up with terms like that?)
One option they're considering is to hold a health care lottery. Not your lucky day? You lose. No matter how sick you are.
And that reminded me of Shirley Jackson's chilling short story by the same name. In "The Lottery," the good people of a small, nondescript American town gather every summer to draw lots. The person who picks the piece of paper with the black mark is calmly stoned to death in a ritual meant to ensure a bountiful harvest for all.
It's a story you don't forget.
(Photo: by Bernard Pollack)

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