Cancer has no politics. We all get that. But much as I might wish to keep politics and health separate—well, I can't, can I? I'm far from the only cancer vet who's holding my breath and waiting to see whether the Supreme Court will strike down the individual mandate—the one provision that could help ensure that we'll be covered if cancer happens to hit us again. IMO you have to be dancing the polka in krazytown to conclude that requiring people to buy health insurance is nothing—NOTHING!—like making them buy auto insurance.
But we're living in a time where ideology trumps common sense, not to mention common decency, at even the highest level of public discourse. So I'm not optimistic that the Supreme Court will factor into its decision the reality that without real change, all of us on Main Street are one medical catastrophe away from … total catastrophe.
Chronic illness is not some rare occurrence. You and I have both read the projections that at least one in three of Americans will have cancer in our lifetimes. And so, I assume, have each of the nine Justices. A cancer diagnosis is forever, my people. Our current healthcare debate ignores that. Crying "Socialism!" is a great way to hide what opponents are really saying: Sorry, folks. No room in the lifeboats.
Without a sufficiently large pool of members, no healthcare organization can take care of people who are faced with chronic illness. As I was once told by an uncommonly honest HMO doctor, we're expendable.
Really? Nah. Not buying it.
So here's what I'm thinking. Just something on my Wish List. If the Supremes strike down healthcare reform, I think I'll copy all my cancer treatment bills and just send the whole stack on over to the Justices. I'll black out my last name and so on; the important thing is to top it all with a total number—the sticker price of your average cancer treatment. In my fantasy, everybody who's had cancer in the last five years would do the same. Just gather up your bills, add up the zeroes if you can count that high, slap the total on a cover sheet, and address the whole stack to John Roberts. You can redact everything but the dollar amounts. Imagine the tons of paper raining down! It'll be the June Blizzard of 2012.
Why take the trouble? Because the justices are able to treat all of us out here as a gigantic faceless Other. I would like to interfere with that. Living through cancer costs money, y'all. And trying to match wits with an insurance company that profits by rejecting you is no way to get well again. Everybody knows this. I just think it's good to let them SEE it.
So what do you say? Shall we help the Justices get their heads around the optics and the metrics of cancer down here in the 99%? If you're interested here's where you write. And tell them annewellagain said hey.