Fifteen simple words have been helping keep a firestorm alive on social media.
“Why is Narcan free to a dope addict but my insulin is $750 a month,” a roadside sign asks in a photo that has been widely shared on Facebook.
Originally posted in July 2017 by a woman in Ohio who said she saw the sign near her house, the image had been shared more than 175,000 times and had generated in excess of 2,000 comments as of Monday night.
It was gaining new attention this week after the original poster shared it again Saturday, with the message that the auto shop owner who posted it had died.
May God rest his soul. May God also give comfort to those who have died of drug overdoses, and to those who struggle with diabetes.
Why is it that despite our common mortality we seem to spend so much time bashing one another and looking for scapegoats when so many working Americans could easily be plunged into financial ruin by the obscene cost of health care in this amazingly wealthy nation?
It is as if the auto shop owner in Ohio and many of the hundreds of thousands of people who shared the photo never knew any friend, relative or neighbor who struggled with addiction.
Given how the opioid addiction has ravaged the rust belt, I find that hard to believe — just as I would here in Pennsylvania.
Perhaps the sign owner and outraged/enthusiastic sharers simply feel that overdose victims are better left for dead as the logical and just consequence of their actions.
There seem to be many Americans who clearly prefer the vengeful God of the Old Testament to the love-preaching Jesus of the New Testament— except, of course, when they and their kin are in need of some compassion and forgiveness — so it’s easy to imagine people who think “dope addicts” should just die and stop costing the rest of us money.
Dope addicts? It’s like the God of Moses meets Ayn Rand, speaking in 1940s lingo. It would be funny if it weren’t all too true.
“You did this to yourself. You can just die already.”
That overlooks a couple of inconvenient facts, of course — most important being that Narcan isn’t a long-term maintenance drug, like insulin. Memes have made similar comparisons with chemotherapy.
In a more apt comparison, some say Epi-Pens used to save the lives of people suffering allergic reactions should also be free.
First, none of these medications are free. Someone is paying, somehow. The critics are likely right that non-addicts are paying out of their own pockets or insurance, while many addicts aren’t.
The common denominator: Life-saving medications are prohibitively expensive, and we need a better mechanism for everyone who needs them to have that access without going into debt.
I know many of the folks who shared the photo and the memes don’t want to hear that addiction is a disease. They’ve made that clear.
Their lack of compassion and solidarity could well come back to bite them — and many of us.
While some people become diabetic through no fault of their own, others are because of their eating and lifestyle habits.
Should they be entitled to health coverage for that self-induced condition, raising the cost for the rest of us?
Many people still smoke cigarettes. Should healthy insurance customers effectively foot the bill for their cancers and lung diseases?
What about those who injure themselves playing competitive sports, including kids? It was their choice to engage in childish games. Let them pay the full costs of their foolishness.
Here’s the thing, folks: Insurance, whether public or private, is based on group behavior. Those who get sick more often, or use the system more often, drive up costs for those who don’t. Those who find themselves unable to pay, one way or another, drive up costs for those who can.
And the elderly? Don’t even get me started on the elderly and how much we working people pay for them. If they don’t contribute to the system any longer, they don’t deserve to draw from it. They should have taken better care of themselves earlier on and not expected society to coddle them at the end.
Survival of the fittest. Let ‘em all die if they’re lazy or reckless or can’t fully pay their own way, right?
Or is it just those whose moral failings some of us feel comfortable judging?