[OPINION] Health care is a right, and the Nevada Public Option gets us there

by Carlo Miciano, R.N.

Everyone should have access to adequate health care regardless of their ability to pay or socioeconomic status; however, this is not the case in Nevada and similarly across the nation.

Most individuals and families are not sufficiently insured or lack insurance, which prevents them from addressing basic health needs, such as annual check-ups, preventive care measures, prescription medications, and other treatments related to health maintenance standards.

Preventative care is the best way to prevent medical emergencies or severe complications related to mismanaged chronic illness. By making routine check-ups and doctor visits more affordable, we can make Nevadans healthier, and prevent higher out-of-pocket costs at emergency departments. This is why I support the Nevada Public Option (Senate Bill 420) which is currently being debated in the state legislature.

As a registered nurse, I encounter hundreds of patients coming to the hospital in need of care who are uninsured, underinsured, or unable to qualify for Medicaid. Without adequate coverage or thousands of dollars ready in the bank, patients may choose to leave against medical advice without completing treatment or undergo the lengthy charity process to ensure they are not discharged with crippling debt in the form of hospital bills and follow-up treatment.

Being in the hospital is stressful: an unfamiliar environment, constant interaction with multiple medical personnel, invasion of privacy and personal space, and the ambiguity of care. Considering all this, the last thing a patient should be worried about is the cost of their care. Many times patients will refuse procedures and diagnostic testing to avoid excessive medical bills or attempt to expedite care in order to shorten their length of stay.

SB420 would open up the marketplace to all Nevadans, regardless of employment or income status. Having a public health insurance marketplace where companies are forced to compete for your business is better for healthcare consumers.

With the implementation of SB420, creating a Nevada Public Option, affordable health insurance would become available to those who would not qualify for Medicaid. This would help Nevadans to become healthier and able to maintain their health and avoid hospitalizations. All Nevadans deserve affordable, quality health care.


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