Michelle R. Simmons is a patient, mother and grandmother who understands firsthand the impact of health disparity.
By: Patricia Valoy | Contributing Editor for Science and Social Justice
Last year I quit my job, lost my steady source of income, lost my health insurance, and learned I was pregnant all in the course of 2 weeks. I am college educated, a professional, 30 years old, and with a wealth of resources at my disposal from many years of feminist activism, yet I found myself terrified of what lay ahead of me, and wondering how I got myself in such a situation. I could no longer go to the ob-gyn who had been my doctor for 10 years, and the only local doctor that accepted Medicaid (the only health insurance I could get without any income) was severely overworked and lacked the most basic of equipment. My first two appointments I waited for over 4 hours, and on one occasion the sonogram machine was not working. I grew up poor in New York City and very familiar with the severe lack of health infrastructure that affects the most vulnerable, but the thought of not having adequate health care during my first pregnancy terrified me.
By Michelle Lugalia-Hollon, Contributing Editor, Global Health
Universal government-funded health insurance goes as far back in history as 1883. Developed countries such as Germany, Sweden, Britain and Norway began providing some form of universal health insurance to citizens as early as the 19th century. According to Physicians for a National Health Plan, a single issue organization advocating for a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program, the main reason that these health insurance programs were established was to protect citizens against wage loss during sickness and to win their political favor. Like today, these programs were highly politicized, but back then it was for very different reasons. Even though universal health care is considered a left-wing ideal today, in the 19th century, the conservative British and German working class heavily supported these programs to counter the growth of socialist and labor parties.