The problem with our current healthcare system is that if you get sick and you’re trying to live the American dream (i.e. the ownership society), you get royally screwed by the insurance companies. They treat us as if we’re cars, and one accident drives our premiums through the roof.

I understand their system and why they think they have to do it, but the reality is that their system is pushing more and more of the middle class into being uninsured…and that could really screw us in the end. More on the reasons after the story.

Here’s more:

SALISBURY, N.C. � Vicki H. Readling vividly remembers the start of 2006.

“Everybody was saying, ‘Happy new year,’ � Ms. Readling recalled. “But I remember going straight to bed and lying down scared to death because I knew that at that very minute, after midnight, I was without insurance. I was kissing away a bad year of cancer. But I was getting ready to open up to a door of hell.�

Ms. Readling, a 50-year-old real estate agent, is one of nearly 47 million people in America with no health insurance.

Increasingly, the problem affects middle-class people like Ms. Readling, who said she made about $60,000 last year. As an independent contractor, like many real estate agents, Ms. Readling does not receive health benefits from an employer. She tried to buy a policy in the individual insurance market, but � having had cancer � could not obtain coverage, except at a price exceeding $27,000 a year, which was more than she could pay.

$27,000. Now who in the hell can pay that? And if this person gets sick, they’re going to take so much more out of the system, because they probably won’t have the resources to pay off whatever medical bills they incur without insurance.

Our current system works, but only to a point. If 47 million people go without a safety net every year, our economy will ultimately suffer. Why? I said it before in a post a couple days ago, but if we’re ever going to have an true ownership society, we’re going to have to have some type of universal healthcare. I don’t know what form it should take, but over the next decade we need to insure our country in order to stay competitive with China and India.

I mean, I don’t think many in this country understand how big a threat those countries are to our “economic leader” status. Because it’s not just about outsourcing. I mean, did you know that each of them have more honor students (kids in higher IQ percentiles) then we have total children in this country? Think about that.

AndIif we can’t keep our population the healthiest in the world, and at the very least our children, then we will fall behind. And that’s not even touching our education system. It may not be 10 years from now, or even 20, but eventually we’ll ultimately be left in the dust because we ignored one of our citizens’ most basic needs.

This next election will offer us a variety of options for how we could approach universal healthcare. They won’t be perfect, but they’ll be a start. And honestly, I don’t think we can afford to start any later than 2009.

Politics Healthcare Gap Grows In Middle Class