For Us. For Now.

at 12:35 AM

Recently my husband was diagnosed with melanoma. I lie awake at night, wondering how we'll break the news to his parents, or whether he'll dance with our daughters at their weddings.

My worst fears are compounded by the added stress over health care. I'm self-employed, and we depend on my husband's job for insurance. We're a decade away from Medicare. What if he dies, or grows too sick to work? Or what if he's fine, but loses his job?

"Until now, I haven't had any pre-existing conditions," my husband frets as sleep eludes us. "Now I'll never be able to get insurance on my own."

Our bad news came the same week Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. As our lives turned upside down, so did the outlook for health care reform.

My husband and I are lucky -- we have money in the bank, a home, jobs and insurance, at least for the moment. Luckier still, my husband's melanoma was caught early, and can be successfully treated through surgery. He still will never be able to get insurance on his own if he loses his job, but all the other 'what ifs' remain hypothetical. For now. For us.

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Others are not so fortunate. Tens of millions of Americans lack access to medical care. They'd never even know they had melanoma until it was too late. Even those with coverage are just an illness or a divorce or a job loss away from catastrophe. No one is immune. As my husband and I discovered, fortune can change in an instant. We dodged the bullet this time, but health care should not be a game of Russian roulette.

Cancer scares me, but the hijacking of reform efforts makes me furious. Why do we tolerate a system that forces people to lie awake at night worrying, "What if I get sick or lose my job?"

Instead, what if we put the well-being of all Americans above politics and profit, and insist that Congress pass meaningful health care reform now? Then maybe we could all rest easier.

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With a Perspective, I'm Lorrie Goldin.

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