There has been so much vitriol and anger and passion over the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obamacare. To me it just seems to be a tempest in a teapot. (A pun was intended.) For the purposes of this blog, I will just call it the ACA. I would also like to say that everything in this blog is an opinion, my opinion. Not the opinion of the left or the right. Just the opinion of a tired traveller on the healthcare front. I am no expert on anything but my own experience so I shall speak from that.
Let's start with that. I am a single childless female in her 40s who is now on disability due to seizures. As a child, I suffered with asthma and allergies. My sister had multiple ear infections. My mother had allergies and migraines. My father eventually contracted diabetes. So, we were very thankful for my father's excellent job that had wonderful benefits.
When I went off of my parents' plan was when the worst experiences were. I've worked for McDonald's, 7-11, & K-Mart. All places that made sure they keep you on part time employment. They don't want to give you any benefits. They want all the asset and none of the deficit. Why should they? After all, if your health is taken care of, you'd only become more reliable. Probably even more productive.
This was painful time for me. I can only say I was grateful I was still at a healthy weight and age. If I had to go through that now, I'd probably drop dead or kill myself. I battled colds and flus with Alka-Seltzer Plus and tea with honey. I worked sick. I worked in pain.
But, I did do something to better myself. I went to clerical school. I got a secretarial job with benefits. Now, many libertarians and other conservatives would counter... see? that's what you should have done! The market works. I disagree, but let's continue.
I got a very good benefit package. I had vision, dental, and health coverage. (Though, I personally believe they should all be combined.)
But, after 12 years of employment, I was laid off. The federal government cut funding for the government contractor I was working for. I no longer had any insurance. No coverage for healthcare. By this time, I had been diagnosed with epilepsy, I had frequent migraines, and I had depression. No coverage for vision. I was now wearing glasses. By my 40's, I couldn't read without them. And no coverage for dental. Why is dental care separate from healthcare? How does that make sense?
A few times during my period of unemployment, I was eligible for medical coupons. But welfare - at least in Washington State - is not as easy to get as people seem to think it is. But more than that, even when I did have employment, I had become a less than reliable employee.
I got stuck in a vicious cycle (and I am sure I am not the only one this happens to). You are unemployed and uninsured. You cannot afford the medication you need. In my case, this meant that my migraines and seizures became more and more frequent. When I did get a job, I wasn't very reliable. When I was employed, I was able to get the medication through state programs, but this coverage went away when I got a job.
This takes me up to the ACA and the need for health coverage in this country. There are many statements I hear from the right I just can't agree with.
#1: Why should I pay for someone that can't get a job to get healthcare?
This is a fallacy. Most of the people without insurance have jobs. Most jobs just don't provide health insurance. That's why so many jobs are part time and not full time. Companies don't want to pay for health coverage.
But the ACA helps this. It demands that all companies provide it. There is a recent trend I noticed recently. I saw this headline Disney Offers Full-Time to Park Staff as Obamacare Starts.
Interesting, huh? Companies are getting on with this. I wish this had happened when I worked at K-Mart.
#2 It's just socialized medicine.
Oh, I wish. Single-payer health care sounds terrific to me. However, the ACA will make money for many companies. If every American has to get health insurance, surely someone out there is making money.
#3 Making me pay a fine for not having health insurance is unconstitutional.
Now, I'm no constitutional lawyer. (Or any kind of lawyer.) But I want those who think that way to think of this:
Do you know anyone that is uninsured? A relative? The paper carrier? Your babysitter? Someone from church? Wouldn't you be willing to pay $95 for them to have health coverage? $95 seems a very small price to pay for someone to have health coverage.
I pay $60 to my local public radio station. I pay $180 per year for my Audible membership. I pay around $95 for my Netflix Instant Watch account.
My point is that it seems trivial.
In my opinion the benefits of health coverage far outweigh any deficits. I just think my life would've been far different had I never had to worry about having health coverage.
For instance, I have been on Medicare and Social Security disability and have been for a couple of years. I just couldn't survive without doing it. It took me nearly two years to get it.
But had I had the ACA? I might never have done that. How many people apply for disability because they just can't survive without health coverage? Wouldn't it be easier to get and keep employment if you didn't have to worry about health coverage?
I know I will probably not sway anyone's minds. But I would just like people to know health care concerns real people with real issues. When you see the political dialogue, it is framed to be about leeches on society. This is wrong. These are real people. Maybe even someone you know and care about.