I have been personally affected by the problems in our health care system. My family and I are caring for my grandparents who are both struggling with dementia and have various physical limitations. We have discovered that medical assistance is either too expensive or only available to families in lower tax brackets. There is often no realistic options for people like us who are stuck in the middle, because we don’t qualify for government assistance or can’t afford costly dementia care facilities.

Arizonans need job protections that prevent employers from firing them if they were to experience a medical emergency. A good friend of mine was almost fired by a major software company while he was undergoing a heart transplant. Fortunately, with the support of his friends, family, and media organizations, they managed to create a public relations nightmare and forced his employer to rescind his termination notice. This type of unethical behavior is inexcusable and cruel and reminds me that we need to do more to support the hard working men and women in this country.

My friend’s experience made me aware that not having the support of a health care system can have a detrimental effect on our society. In fact, I also experienced these problems first-hand when I was in the process of joining the Army National Guard Officer Candidate School. During the military entrance process, it was determined I had a disqualifying medical condition that prevented me from serving my country. Frustratingly, this issue could have been resolved years ago had I been able to afford access to health care services. No American should ever lose their job or have their dreams crushed because they could not afford to see a doctor and receive preventative care and treatments.

Cost is another issue. Unless you are a millionaire, nobody can afford the astronomical cost of medical care in this country if employers don’t help to subsidize the cost of insurance. But, if someone loses their job or retires, they lose their medical coverage and cannot afford the help they need without assistance from the government. Instead of being forced to depend upon an insecure dependent relationship with employers, we should have control of our health care needs. An effective solution would be to allow people an affordable way to buy into Arizona’s Medicaid program (AHCCCS) and start to offer services to residents caught in limbo, who have not been able to access any alternative medical programs.

Visiting other states is also a frustrating experience, because each state has adopted different health care regulations, policies, and laws that make it difficult for us to access services across state lines. We need to improve the quality of care available to Arizonans and create universal standards of service that everyone can access regardless of financial status or location. Health savings accounts (HSA) could potentially give us the freedom to move around the country without losing our coverage. They are an excellent way for people to subsidize their coverage by providing them with the ability to make small investments and build a safety-net that they can use even if they lose their job, change employers, retire, move, or travel out of state.

Health care in this country is a complex issue that I take very seriously. Millions of Americans do not receive the level of care that they deserve, because they either cannot afford services or don’t have the means of accessing the care they need. We have unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but if we are suffering, in pain, and cannot live unless we receive medical care, then our rights are being violated. Resolving this issue is complicated, but the path forward is clear. We need a universal, single-payer option that will provide us with the safety and security that Americans deserve. This will effectively reduce our dependence upon for-profit special interest groups, save us money, and make America great again.