Dying For Health Insurance

Health Care

There’s nothing like being really sick to remind you of how great it is to have health insurance. The last month has really driven that home for me. Believe me when I say I am glad we are insured. I’m glad I was able to get the help I needed.

Yet, there are people who, even now, would prefer for Americans to go without insurance rather than have any government involvement. What they want is a free market free-for-all.

The world didn’t end when the ACA went into effect. Tens of thousands of people didn’t lose their health insurance, as predicted. The specter of death panels never materialized and, in general, things were better for those who were able to get insurance for the first time.

Then, there are people like me who have preexisting conditions who were precluded from shopping for health plans, and paid exorbitant premiums (try $1,400 per month) for bare bones coverage with outrageous deductables. With the ACA passing we were able to decide what plan worked best for us, and weren’t forced into plans that didn’t offer the coverage we needed.

Americans don’t have the kind of coverage found elsewhere in the world. I remember talking with a roomful of English people about the insurance industry in the United States. They honestly didn’t believe my husband and me when we explained policies, plans, and the ability of an insurance company to raise rates with impunity, and cancel your coverage if you had the audacity to actually use it. They were incredulous when we explained how people went bankrupt from medical bills, but were unable to discharge that debt when they filed. They thought that perhaps we had our facts wrong, and we were met with many skeptical, “Are you sure that’s the way it is?” They thought it was barbaric. (Their words, not mine)

The fact is our health insurance before the ACA was barbaric. The notion that a sick person could be denied benefits and treatment, and then kicked off of their plan for getting ill is brutal and merciless. We as a society deserved better than that, and we got at least a measure more of humanity than existed.

Is it the best system? No. Would I rather see single payer? Of course. But, we do ourselves a disservice when we refuse to accept anything less than perfection, and as a result pass up progress when we don’t get everything we want.

How defeatist to not bother making the world a better place when we know that utopia is not reachable. What kind of spoiled children refuse to play when they find out they can’t be assured an absolute victory?

Rest assured that Republicans, with no plan of their own, would happily kill the act which has provided relief for the uninsured and the previously uninsurable. In the last few years Republicans have tried 56 times to completely repeal or undermine the law. They keep touting the phrase ‘repeal and replace’, but their slogan is as empty as their hearts. They have no plan, but simply want to kick millions off the rolls, with no remedy.

Now the ACA faces a new challenge: The Supreme Court has heard arguments on whether the federal government can provided subsidies for consumers to purchase healthcare coverage in states that did not set up their own health insurance exchanges. The case of King vs. Burwell could very well be what brings down Obamacare.

I am one of those people who will find themselves without insurance should this happen. I will be kicked off, left out in the cold and have nowhere to turn should insurance companies return to their former practices. I have preexisting conditions that no insurance company will want to take the chance on.

The Supreme Court has already voted on this issue, but we will have to wait until June for the decision to be announced. We could find out in 3 months that things will go forward as they are. Or – what worries me so much – we could find out that Obamacare has been overturned.

Then what? Well, to tell the truth I have no idea what I’ll do. I really don’t. I’d like to ask the people who want this program to go away to tell me – in detail – how I am supposed to get the health insurance I desperately need? The sad truth is that most subscribe to the ‘Screw you – I got mine, you get yours’ school of philosophy. They actually feel no compassion for their fellow humans, and don’t really care if someone can’t afford insurance, or is denied it completely because they would use it.

I’m sad that so many in my country doesn’t see health care as being part of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. It’s depressing that virtually every other industrialized nation has better health insurance than we provide our citizens. Having a heart attack shouldn’t bankrupt you, nor should it be an excuse for a heartless corporation to maximize their profits.

So often we are told by politicians that the United States is an exceptional place. It’d sure be nice if we acted like it now and again.

All I can do is cross my fingers and wait until June.


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