I only use Facebook because I have family on it, and they want to see pictures of my daughter. That is pretty much what I use it exclusively for. But I've friended a bunch of people I know or knew, and some of them have political positions I no longer hold. Or hold as completely. And one area where those people and I diverge quite stridently is on health care.
Well... of course a number of them are decrying the Federal Government shutdown without acknowledging what it's actually about, and they're cheerfully blaming the President for it, and I lost my patience and did something I rarely do -- posted something political on Facebook. A useless gesture, I know. However, I thought I'd repost it here, since it pretty clearly states my position on the subject...
I interrupt regularly scheduled pictures of my daughter to be blunt about Health Care.
I remember back when "Hillarycare" was a thing in the 90s, and I remember opposing it in the strongest possible terms. I was against the complete Federalization of health care then, and my reasons, as far as I remember them, were genuine and rooted in the belief that getting the government involved in something was a surefire way to make things worse. I was also a very healthy 20-something who didn't have to deal with the realities of a market designed to screw over people who actually needed health care.
A lot has changed since then. I still haven't really had to use my own health care much, though I was glad I had it when I was diagnosed with Essential Tremor, and I was glad I had it when I had to go to the emergency room due to what was apparently a case of Meniere's Disease (that would be a sudden lack of balance that also damages your hearing every time it happens). But these things are relatively minor.
Unfortunately, as with a lot of these things, perspective only shows up when you personally get screwed by whatever it is you "didn't think was a problem." This happened to us.
It happened to us when we were on my wife's insurance -- insurance we got through the Hospital she worked at. Insurance from a hospital should be great, right? Well, the insurance company tried to deny her coverage she was legitimately owed at a time when we were faced with the POSSIBILITY that she had liver cancer. It turns out she didn't have it, thank God, but we had to find out, and the insurance company kept denying her claims. It was only because she dug in her heels and forced the issue that they eventually gave in and paid up.
But this is the fundamental problem with our "insurance as a business" model today. We had a damn contract with an insurance company--insurance that was being provided through the HOSPITAL WHERE SHE WORKED--and they were trying to find every way to weasel out of their agreement. There is absolutely no excuse for that behavior. People who have insurance should not be forced to be bulldogs just to get a company to provide the services they are CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGATED to provide.
I felt utterly helpless at that time. I was in a position where there was a chance I was watching my wife die while her insurance company dicked around. We didn't have the money to just pay for everything out of our own pocket. I was in a position where we had to start thinking about "what happens if we have to watch her die?"
Think about that for a second. If you've never been there, I genuinely hope you never have to be. And we got a happy ending -- no cancer -- but we were sitting in our apartment in the process of adopting our daughter, faced with having to figure out whether palliative/hospice care was more affordable than trying to save my wife's life. We didn't talk about it much, because it was too new, too painful. But it was there. We had to think about it. We had to think about it because there was a chance that no matter how many times we insisted the insurance company do the right thing, we had no indication, at that point, that it was possible to change their minds. From where we sat it looked like they had every scrap of power and we were completely at their mercy. And as far as that company was concerned, it was ok for my wife to have liver cancer and die if they didn't have to pay up.
That was my takeaway from the health insurance industry in the mid 2000s -- the industry that Republicans in the House are now fighting so vigorously to preserve, to the extent that they're willing to shut down the Federal Government instead of allowing this law to force the health insurance industry to change the way they traditionally do business.
"Obamacare" is not a perfect solution by any means. There's no such thing as a law that works completely "as intended." It is, however, a much better used car than the one I was forced to drive before.
Especially now that I'm self-employed and on an "individual" insurance plans. You know those laws that require health insurance accept you if you can prove continuous coverage? Individual insurance plans are EXEMPT from those laws. My first attempt to get "individual" insurance for my family was denied because the underwriters for that company saw my wife's tests in her medical history and denied her out of hand, even though those tests ultimately came up negative. The health insurance I'm on now requires me to pay them FOR A YEAR before I can make any claims against them that can be tied in to our medical history -- in other words, the yearly test my wife is required to have to make sure that the original test was actually RIGHT has to be paid out of pocket this year because it's a "pre-existing condition," because an individual insurance plan isn't governed by the same laws as group plans and we're a bit screwed on that front until the new year rolls around.
What happens when the new year rolls around you ask? Well, some "Obamacare" provisions go into place that makes those kind of clauses illegal. My family may have to still wait till June, because the current clauses may be grandfathered, but other families in my position won't have to deal with that. I do know that the new health care laws will make it easier for those of us who have health care to insist that the companies do what they promised to do when you bought into them. It will make it harder for them to weasel out of what they seem to be promising by putting in clever and obscure clauses in your contract. It will, in short, make it possible for people to get what they THOUGHT they were paying for.
The Market wasn't willing to do that on its own. Sorry supply-siders, but the invisible hand of the market isn't fixing anything, it's just giving me and my family the finger. When predation is an economic advantage, companies will act like predators. That's what health insurance is today--a predatory industry that regularly bets against the customers who get sick.
So hey, guess what? I'm willing to give more regulation a try. The free market has told me in pretty unequivocal terms to fuck off, that me and my family don't rate. So screw the free market. If it takes laws to force them to provide what I pay them for, I'll support those laws. It's pretty much that simple. The only ideology I'm willing to die for is my faith, and Jesus healed the sick regardless of pre-existing conditions.
Which brings me to my ultimate point: every single one of you out there who is opposed to "Obamacare," and who may be supporting the House's government shutdown in order to defund it -- you are attacking my family. I don't care what your reasons are, I don't care how morally committed you are to your cause, I don't care what ethical problems you have with more Federal involvement in health insurance. I don't give a rat's ass. My family will always, always, always be more important than your excuse. And all I will ever hear, from any argument you make, is that it's OK for my wife, my daughter, or heck, for me to die in order for you to make your point. That's a line you drew, and for the record, I am not on your side.
Hey, that's your choice to make. You are an individual possessing a will of your own. You get to make your own value judgments and ethical decisions and you get to prioritize, for yourself, what is most important in life. In the course of those decisions, you get to choose that my family's life is worth absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. You get to choose which eggs have to be broken in order to make your fucking omelet, and you get to decide, either intentionally or simply through inaction and denial, that my family gets to be one of those eggs.
But understand that I will never take that sitting down, and yes, it is personal.