Regardless of what you think about Michael Moore and his theatrics, one thing is clear — if you live in Canada (or a variety of European countries), there are a lot less worries about health care — getting it and paying for it — than we have here in the United States.
I’ve said before that the PunditMom family is really lucky. We have a good insurance policy, so we worry a lot less than many families when it comes to health care. But apparently one of the men we’ve come to know and like who works at PunditGirl’s school does not.
I’m not exactly sure what Mr. W.’s title is, but he’s the guy who directs traffic at the intersection by the school in the mornings to make sure everyone crosses safely, he does custodial work around the school, and pretty much anything else that needs to be done taking care of the building itself. He’s kind, always upbeat and happy to see you even when he’s standing out in the rain on a dreary afternoon at pick-up.
But Mr. W. is really sick. Last week, all the school’s families got an E-mail from the principal telling us about his illness, how they were planning to tell the children, and asking if any of us would be willing to make some small contributions to help cover his medical costs and hospice care.
That we live in a country where a hard-working man who is loved by all the children at the school where he works doesn’t have the coverage he needs to make his last days comfortable and worry free made me sick.
Sure, many of us have advocated for changes in the health insurance system. But it’s abstract until it hits home. And it doesn’t even have to be a family member. Mr. W. always has a smile and wave for me and PunditGirl. We chat about the changing seasons, the icy sidewalks and having good holidays. His openness and affection for the school and the kids reminds me of my dad, a part-time school bus driver who keeps up with the job at the age of 71 partly to watch the kids grow up and partly for the health insurance.
I wish instead of a check to cover a few expenses, we could have given Mr. W. a ticket to Canada where, at least if you believe what you see in Sicko, he and his family would not have had to worry about his medical care or whether his family’s resources would be sapped by his illness.
Of course, we were more than happy to help Mr. W. and his family and we’re glad that we could do it. But wouldn’t it be so much better if we never had to get messages like that again because families would just know the doctors and medicines and care they needed would be available no matter how much or how little their family income was?