Get well soon, Governor…

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to have broken the femur in his right leg, when skiing on vacation at Sun Valley. He made need surgery when he gets back.

Beyond his ability to boogie at the inaugural ball, the obvious connection made by some reports, like the Sacramento Bee, and by blogger Dan Weintraub, is how this incident ties in with the push for health care reform in 2007.

As someone who had an ankle injury earlier this year, I can attest: having a medical problem causes major setbacks and stress on one’s lives, in small ways and large: Governor Schwarzenegger is lucky (as was I) that his job does not require him to be on his feet.

So the test with health care reform is to make sure that a medical problem, caused accident or age, does not also turn into a financial problem. If Arnold was uninsured or underinsured (say, with a high deductible plan), this incident will cost him thousands of dollars, at a minimum, from the immediate care to stabilize the situation, to the follow-up surgery. For most people who have some debt and live paycheck-to-paycheck, that’s enough to face serious financial harm or even bankrtupcy. Even for the insured (like me), the co-payments for the needed follow-up care can either discourage such care, or cause tough choices for California families.

As the press reports indicate, the Governor–somebody as proud of his fitness as anyone–has had a couple of medical incidents in the past year. The goal of next year is that Californians can get similar care without the negative financial consequences for ourselves, our families, and our communities.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and hopeful new year.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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