Congratulations to the Democrats for passing a smaller, less corrupt version of Obama’s health care plan to cover the 30 million+ Americans who are uninsured. I’ve read numerous articles about the pros and cons of this plan, and I still can’t figure it all out. An Associated Press article writes, “Obama practically needs a spreadsheet to tell people what’s going on and when.” That said, progress has been made. I’d like to go over some of the basics, and end with a discussion.
LOOKING OUT FOR EACH OTHER
Unlike making money, we can only do so much with our health until genetics take over. We can eat fruits and vegetables until the cows come home. We can work out 5 hours a week and play another 5 hours of tennis on the weekends to improve our fitness. But who’s to say we don’t get cancer one day and die because we can no longer afford to treat the disease? As far as scientists can tell, if we’re destined to get some disease, we will. Wealth helps keep us alive.
Earning a living, on the other hand, is pretty straight forward. Don’t slack off in grade school, go to a good university, get a reasonable job, don’t slack off at work, add value, spend less than you earn, and voila! You will be rich when you retire. Along the way, you’ll find impasses such as economic Armageddon we just experienced. You might lose your job, or 30% of your net worth like I did. But that’s OK. We just go back to school, find another profession, extend our retirement age by a couple years and keep marching forward.
You can’t march forward if you are sick. You can’t even stand sometimes. This is where we MUST step in and provide a safety net for those who cannot help themselves.
HEALTH AND POVERTY
Watching a documentary about personal bankruptcies the other day, it was amazing to learn that 3 out of the 4 families profiled were living in poverty due to health related issues.
A beauty queen broke her neck, and couldn’t continue working. She now lives in a shelter because she couldn’t afford to pay her medical bills. A family of four live in their broken down car because the father severed a nerve in his arm at work, and could no longer operate the machinery. The insurance for rehab ran out, and he was left stuck, unable to do return to his old job.
If we had a better health care system, perhaps we’d have less health related bankruptcies. Is that so bad? Should we not try and help others out who bet on red but get black? We should.
THE OBJECTING CROWD
Everything comes down to money and service. Those who oppose ask how we can afford free coverage for 30 million more people? The opposition also asks with 30 million people in the system, does that mean my doctor’s visit wait jumps from 15 minutes to an 1 hour? Do the citizens who can afford to pay get crowded out as a result? Good questions, and I don’t have the answer.
However, if you were to ask me whether it’s OK to raise my taxes by a couple percent a year to insure that everybody in America can get proper health care, I say yes. Let’s say I earn $100,000 a year, and the tax increase of 2% is earmarked for health care reform. I’m willing to pay an extra $2,000 a year to ensure we all have the right to health care.
Whether my premiums go up $2,000 a year or my taxes go up by $2,000, it’s the same thing, so I’m not arguing where the money will come from. Ask me to pay $2,000 more in taxes a year for some pork spending I have no idea about, I would vehemently vote no.
Let’s say I do have to wait 45 more minutes for the doctor because of a crowding out effect. Fine, let me surf the web on my PDA, read some magazines, do some stretching, and perhaps take a nap. Maybe I have to wait a week longer than normal to see a doctor. That is a problem which will be solved by capitalists who will open more independent practices to meet demand. Just knowing that I will get assistance tempers my worries. And if you never had a shot at seeing a doctor in the first place, you won’t be complaining about a wait.
If I have an emergency, then off to the emergency room I go. I will be treated according to the degree of my trauma. Hopefully there won’t be millions of new hypochondriacs who abuse the emergency room system, but that is a chance I’m willing to take.
I feel it in my gut, opposing health care reform is bad. It’s as if the karma police is watching me. We can only do so much to control the outcome of our lives. We don’t know how long we will live, and whether we will die peacefully or painfully. Sickness affects a billionaire as easily as it affects a beggar. Why should someone lose everything just because they are poor? They shouldn’t, and that’s why I congratulate the passage of this bill again. Let’s just make sure everybody helps pitch in, and not just those who aren’t lucky enough to be Nebraskans or particular union workers.
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Updated for 2015 and beyond