Opinion: America needs a national health care system

Opinion: America needs a national health care system

We can’t let health care costs bankrupt us.

I have a friend and classmate from high school who lives in another state. He is a steady, disciplined guy who was quite successful as a salesman of construction materials.

But years ago he became afflicted with ulcerative colitis. He had medical insurance, but the drugs used to treat ulcerative colitis are very expensive and his co-pays for the medication were also very high. Over time, because of the out-of-pocket costs for his medication, he, in his own words, became “functionally bankrupt.”

[State health care director is out]

Now, at age 72, he cannot retire. He is self-employed as a jobber for re-roofing jobs. That is, he makes a commission from finding and securing roofing jobs for his partners.

But his is only one example.

There are thousands of cases of individuals and families who end up functionally and legally bankrupt because of a serious injury or illness. People who have worked hard all their lives. It doesn’t have to be this way. All the other countries in the western world have national health care systems.

[Opinion: Dunleavy’s budget jeopardizes Alaska’s health and economy]

There is an even more poignant example that occurred here in Juneau years ago.

There was a man, I believe his last name was Johnson. He procured a form of cancer, and it was advanced. But he did not have insurance and he did not have the money to pay for treatment. So he committed suicide by jumping off the Douglas Bridge.

Folks, this is why we need a national health care system.

Ray Preston,


• My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.