Lynn Bruno: Universal and Free

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In the mass COVID vaccination program, Lynn Bruno sees features of a health care system that we can only dream about.

At a recent checkup at Kaiser, a nurse suggested that although I’m not eligible for the COVID vaccine yet, I could come to the clinic at closing time to see if I could get a leftover shot. She said I could even bring my daughter, who isn’t a Kaiser member. It didn’t work, but I still left feeling amazed.

Yes there have been problems around the vaccine rollout. But let’s focus for a minute on the fact that all Americans are getting healthcare without having to worry about deductibles, co-pays, in network or pre-authorization. It doesn’t matter if they have an HMO, PPO, HSA, or even who their insurer is. And there won’t be a surprise bill later.

Can you imagine trying to do this through our regular healthcare system? I can. During my husband’s 10-year battle with cancer we also had to battle a system whose goal often seemed to be to deny care.

With treatment options running out, my husband’s doctor got permission for compassionate care use of a new drug. That meant that the manufacturer would give it to him for free. However, our insurance company declined to pay for it to be infused. After he passed, I got a big fat bill for the ambulance that brought him home to die, because I failed to secure pre-authorization.

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Our healthcare system is not just overly complex. It is inhumane. The vaccine rollout is letting us experience a healthcare paradigm that is not based on profit, but on the fact none of us can be assured of being healthy until all of us are.

Let’s not let this moment go to waste. The pandemic showed us how closely the economic health of our nation is tied to the health of our people. Let’s design a healthcare system to take care of all of us, always, for the good of our country.

With a Perspective, I’m Lynn Bruno.

Lynn Bruno is a Bay Area based social media and executive communications consultant.