Editors note: I thought I would wait until September to write an expanded article, but this issue is of the most urgent matter and needs to be discussed.
This past weekend the Obama administration began downplaying the idea of a public health care option. Due to the growing opposition of aggressive conservatives, Obama recently began diverting the push for government-run health care towards the development of a non-profit health insurance company that would compete against the high-priced private health care options. I couldn’t be more disappointed. This new angle in the health care debate is not a solution, and to the many Americans who believe they can claim victory over government-run health care should really view it is a significant loss.
After listening to the debate, and watching as the right-wing fringe horrifically distorted plans of the health care reform bill, I began to get angry. Very angry. This issue touches me to the very core because my own issues with health insurance companies have left me with a terrible aftertaste. And these right-wingers, who are fighting for a free market and fighting so hard to hold onto these unfair insurance policies, are the ones being duped the hardest. The free market has no business in health care discussion; it has already destroyed our economy. The truth of the matter is that the system is broken, and many Americans, who have been so used to paying a premium, are sadly taking the bait.
Here is my personal situation. In late 2007 and 2008, I needed to visit my doctor for a series of two separate procedures. I did not have the option to not go in, but I figured since I had health insurance, and had been paying dutifully out of every paycheck, that I would be fine. I was wrong. Most of my itemized procedures had to be paid out of pocket, and many were only partially covered after I put in a claim. Some of my procedures had to be paid up front, so I had to wait until I had enough money to cover the bill before going in. There is something seriously wrong with that scenario. Why, as an insured person, should I be paying these crazy deductibles, paying up front, and—on top of that—be denied for certain procedures? What the insurance companies do now is exactly what overzealous right-wingers are claiming that Obama’s public option will do—determine whether or not I can see my doctor for a life-saving procedure. The thing is, I had to make that decision myself with my own, private health insurance company.
Another argument that I hear floating around is the idea that people will be forced onto the public health insurance plan because businesses will not offer health care. I’ve taken a look around the job market, and the fact is most companies, aren’t offering health care, and the ones that do have plans that are so poor that the consumer ends up paying ridiculously high deductibles, or like me, paying for some procedures out of pocket. Even the Medicaid system is a poor option because it leaves so many people out of the fray. The maximum income amount for a single person in New York is roughly $800 to qualify for Medicaid. That means that if you are receiving $1600–the maximum amount in unemployment benefits in New York State– you fall $800 over the limit, and therefore do not qualify for public health care. $800. Last time I checked, $800 could barely get you a bedroom share in New York City. Forget about food, utilities, and the ever-rising MTA fares. And with 9.4% of Americans out of work—9.4% of formally hard working, tax-paying citizens have to worry about how to pay for an itemized hospital bill if they get sick. This burden will inevitable fall on the rest of the working class, and the more Americans that are sick, the bigger the burden. We need to protect these vulnerable Americans and keep this molehill from turning into a mountain.
I have watched alarmingly as Americans throw around several –isms: Socialism, communism, etc, etc. The truth of the matter is that the United States would not survive without some form of socialism. Should we shut down roads? Close parks? Close museums? What about the very idea of unemployment insurance benefits? These same people use the scare tactic of socialism may very well end up out of a job within the next few months and would waste no time filing for unemployment. Most Americans have no real idea about socialism, because they have never actually lived in a socialist state. It’s just easier to throw in there to make Americans evermore fearful of Barack Obama’s plans. Medicaid is another “socialist” program, but as I said before, one would need to be practically desolate in order to qualify.
I am sick of the rhetoric. I’m tired of the lies thrown in by right-wing opponents who are eager to protect the interests of the billion-dollar healthcare industry as it stands now. I want health care reform, and I want it now. Americans need to at least be given the option.