Mark and I bought our house about seven years ago. It’s a very old house, and not many repairs had been made since it was built, so we’ve had a fair share of problems. One of those issues was the main sewage line in our front yard. Tree roots had intertwined around the pipe, and were growing and blocking the passage of water. Every couple of months, this sewer line would get so backed up that our toilets and showers would start draining slowly. Eventually, they would start backing up. The whole house would stink. We had a plumber come out and diagnose the problem the first time it happened. He could snake the drain out to the main line for about $250. Or we could repair the main line completely and permanently, for $5000.
Repairing the main line seemed like an impossible expense. So for several years, instead of dealing with the issue, we lived in crisis management mode. We ignored the problem until things got really bad, and then every 3-6 months we would get desperate enough to call a plumber to snake the drain again.
After about three years of this, we realized that paying to fix the problem was the right thing to do. It seemed like an insane amount of money at the time. We didn’t have the money. We didn’t want to spend the money. But we knew we needed to fix the root of the problem, because not fixing it would be more expensive in the long run.
Because sometimes, you have to spend money in the short-term to save money in the long-term. Especially when there are problems that are making you sick.
Today the healthcare reform bill passed, and there is legitimate concern over how much money it will cost. However, I believe that despite it’s initial cost, is still the right thing to do. According to predictions, my tax bracket won’t actually be affected. But I say this with all sincerity: if I did have to pay a couple percentage points to assure that all Americans have access to adequate healthcare? That would be just fine with me. Living in a wealthy country where a person can be dropped from their insurance for being sick – this is inhumane.
(The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that healthcare reform will cut the nation’s deficit by more than a trillion dollars over 20 years . A great article explaining how it can achieve that reduction of national debt is here.)