Over the last few days, I've naturally given much thought to what happens next for me. The answer is distressingly unclear as both Jackie and I work for a paper that's likely to disappear in less than two months.
When I look at the options, it's an ugly picture.
With unemployment and some odd jobs (for which we'll make only $1 for every $3 that we earn while on unemployment), we might be able to pay the bills for the necessities, from the mortgage to car insurance.
But there's no way there's enough money to pay $1,000 or more a month to maintain health insurance while we're both unemployed. That would just go out the window, setting up the potential for financial catastrophe, as so many hardworking people without coverage have discovered to their horror already.
But this strikes me as less a personal nightmare scenario as a national policy choice that can still be salvaged for growing numbers of working people who don't have a job in this sinking economy.
Forget national health insurance for now, or whatever the politicians decide someday. What's really needed is to provide Medicare or Medicaid coverage for people who are on unemployment.
It's a simple step that would make sure that people who are already feeling the blow of a recession they didn't cause don't lose everything.
In the end, of course, taxpayers are going to pick up the tab for any medical care that's needed, one way or another.
Though I've been blessedly healthy, if my appendix decided to give up the ghost in late January, you know I'm going to end up in an emergency room and that doctors are going to use their skills to save me, insurance or no insurance. That would be equally true for more catastrophic scenarios, too.
But if I can't pay the tabs -- and I surely couldn't -- then you will. That's what we do in this country, after all. It's not like I'm going to stay home and quietly die rather than seek treatment on someone else's dime.
It would be better, more just and more efficient for everybody to recognize reality and simply provide the health coverage that unemployed people need.
I hope this catches the eye of somebody in Washington because it would be a simple way to lend a helping hand to millions of Americans who are hurting.*******
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org