My childhood in Kansas happened to coincide with the moment that health-insurance and drug companies essentially merged with the nation’s for-profit hospital system, creating costs that were prohibitive for uninsured families like ours.
In our parts, health care was rare not just because of escalating costs but because of our remote location. We didn’t put much faith in doctor visits, anyway. We told ourselves that we didn’t need doctors, but the truth was that we couldn’t afford them. If you had a real health emergency, you were liable to be dead before some small town’s ambulance made it down the muddy, sandy ruts of our dirt roads. But a decade-old dropper of stinging red iodine would fix most cuts, so we went on like everything was fine.
By the time I was born, rural hospitals were closing and American health care had been transformed into a slick big business in the urban centers. Being the youngest of six, my dad was the only baby that Grandma Teresa gave birth to in a hospital rather than in the farmhouse where they were raised. But when I was a kid, the old ways of country doctors were still hanging on in places like ours—places that, I would later learn, much of the country thought endured only in movies and books.
– The Nation