A Nov. 12 front-page Portland Press Herald article (“South Portland woman with rare immune system disease struggling physically, financially”) describes Crystal Goodwin’s battle against a rare and sinister disease that has stripped her of the good health that any American is entitled to.

This newspaper brings to light matters that we all need to see. A brave young woman facing daunting tasks just to stay alive and enjoy the basic benefits of the world’s strongest and richest nation and contribute her part to this society. Any one of us could be Crystal, facing a life in shambles and a health care disaster.

Beyond her illness lurks an array of medical expenses that everyday Americans could never pay, nor even understand.

Somehow we’ve failed our responsibility to recall that our forefathers decreed equality in America, implying that we would be held responsible for bringing along those like Crystal who need our help.

A deluge of paperwork has choked the health care sector, with insurance-speak and costly administrative mumbo-jumbo leading the way. Nobody seems to be able to decipher this cornucopia, resulting in a tragic miscarriage of social justice characterized by confusion, fear and, yes, humiliation in that she has had to sacrifice her privacy in plea-bargaining with all of us to call attention to her inability to pay for her medical care. Hers is an impossible dilemma, brought to her only by chance.

Shame on us for allowing this to happen, especially when we know that universal health care and single-payer insurance could solve this matter in a heartbeat – if we only had the guts to do it.

Yes, universal health care, with everyone in and no one out, would simplify the distribution of care to all while saving billions of dollars and reducing the crushing fear of the cost of medical care in America.

Richard C. Dillihunt, M.D.

Portland