by Stephen Perkins
My father-in-law came to the U.S. from Mexico in 1969. He was a well-educated man, a physics teacher in Mexico who knew English and was able to teach his family how to speak the language. However, like most immigrants he encountered many difficulties in the workplace for many years having to work in jobs that did not pay very well.
His ability to take apart and repair things enabled him to find positions that paid him progressively better, which culminated in him landing a job with the Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA). He had gone from earning a $2 an hour to making $30 hr plus overtime. You could say that he was living the American dream. He was able to retire 16 years ago at the age of 62 with a good pension, Social Security and Medicare and return to Mexico, where he provided support to different members of his family who were struggling financially.
He did not choose however, to pay for Medicare B when he was first eligible at the age of 65. Now he has a blocked artery and needs a cardiac catheterization. In the U.S. you need part B of Medicare to have the surgery covered. This means that he would have to pay $250 per month out of pocket for the rest of his life. However, the waiting period to sign up ended in March, which means he will either have to wait until next year to sign up and have the surgery in July of 2016 or pay $15,000 out of pocket to have the surgery now in Mexico.
Because the wealthiest country in the world runs its health care system on the basis of profit, he will not be able to have the surgery in the U.S. Of course, in a democratic socialist society, he would be able to have the surgery in a timely manner without being raked across the coals financially. In fact, in many advanced industrialized capitalist countries in the world this type of treatment would be unthinkable.
In the U.S. we need direct action to support increasing funding for Medicare in order to ensure that people are not in this position. Otherwise, we will be left to our own devices and in no position to fend for ourselves.