What If We Didn’t Have To Worry About Healthcare?

An American Fairy Tale

Jacqueline Dooley
5 min readJan 11, 2023

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Image by Gerd Altmann from PIxabay

My new government-issue healthcare card arrives promptly two days before Christmas on December 23rd, 2022. It looks like a driver’s license, but there’s no photo. Just my name and an ID number that will stay with me until I die.

The crisp image of a bald eagle superimposed over a caduceus is embossed on the card, the new symbol of America’s universal healthcare system.

As I tuck the card into my wallet, the significance of this moment hits me and I smile with relief. I take my old health insurance card out of my wallet for the last time, but I’m afraid to cut it up. Instead, I put it in a drawer with the others even though it’s worthless now.

On January 1st, 2023, 400 million Americans wake up with head-to-toe healthcare coverage, funded and managed entirely by taxpayers like myself.

This includes everything, from routine checkups and tests to treatment for complicated diseases and conditions to palliative and end-of-life care. Our new healthcare system also includes mental health, dental, vision, and emergency care.

This year, I will no longer need to pay hundreds of dollars each month for my health insurance premium. Instead, I can pay down debt, buy some much-needed household supplies, and tuck a bit away in a savings account.

The deeply-rooted anxiety that’s had a stranglehold on me since my older daughter was diagnosed with cancer at the age of eleven, begins to loosen its grip.

On the first business day in January, I make an appointment with my optometrist. I haven’t had my eyes checked in over five years and I’m sorely in need of a checkup. At the age of 51, my eyesight is changing rapidly.

When I call to make the appointment, the receptionist doesn’t ask me what insurance I have. She doesn’t tell me that payment is due up front. She simply takes my name and schedules an appointment for the following week.

There are immediate health needs that my husband and I address right away, things we’ve put off too long because of the prohibitive cost — a hernia repair, a dental implant, a dermatologist’s evaluation of a questionable mole, an appointment with a psychiatrist and…

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Jacqueline Dooley

Essayist, content writer, bereaved parent. Bylines: Human Parts, GEN, Marker, OneZero, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Pulse, HuffPost, Longreads, Modern Loss