As you have probably heard by now, the Supreme Court decided today, in a 5-4 vote, that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (health insurance) is constitutional. The individual mandate part of the ACA is about semantics – if you don’t buy into this insurance, are you taxed or penalized?
As self-employed individuals, our health care would have cost us from $12,000-$14,000 a year each for basic care,–about $25k– so we haven’t had insurance for the last 22 years. When we were first married, we bought basic coverage, then when I got pregnant we learned the insurance didn’t cover maternity expenses. We paid more than $8,000 for Megan’s birth – and that was in 1989 – and there was nothing wrong with her, it wasn’t a C-section, and I spent just one night in the hospital. Yes, that was with health care.
Around this time, my friend Nancy Pickard and I had a rather in depth discussion about the Seth material. She said she didn’t have health insurance because she had realized long before that her challenges in this life weren’t about health issues. She adhered to Seth’s tenets that physical ailments/diseases are about internal disconnects. A light went on in my head; I realized that my challenges in this life weren’t about health, either. Neither are Rob’s. After that, we dropped our insurance.
This no insurance thing isn’t something we’ve talked about with most people. When we do, the often subsequent silence is uncomfortable, the other person changes the subject, their stance is clear. The Macs are cuckoo.
Fortunately, we’ve been healthy and have been in ER maybe three times. We paid out of pocket. We never expected to be treated for free. While our daughter was growing up, she had fantastic health care through Florida’s healthy kids program. $5 co-pay. When she broke her wrist when she was nine or so, the entire cost was $20. When Rob broke his foot in a biking accident and went to a walk-in clinic and then an orthopedic surgeon, the bill was $3,000. After Megan’s healthy kids insurance expired, she broke her foot in a sailing accident. The bill eventually came to $2,500 and that’s without any surgery, just a cast, the doctor’s visits, the X rays.
When Obama proposed the Affordable Care Act, he didn’t even bother proposing Medicare for all. In fact, he set the bar way too low, using what was a Republican agenda that basically turned 33 million people over to the insurance companies in return for: you can’t be denied insurance based on pre-existing conditions (excellent); kids can stay on their parents’ policies to the age of 26 (great, if your parents have insurance); no cap on care (fantastic). But Obama ‘s program doesn’t remove profit from health care.
The irony is that Obama’s program is fashioned after the template that Romney set up in Massachusetts when he was governor. Romney, of course, would prefer to have amnesia about that and even made a statement today that as president, he would make sure the Affordable Care Act was repealed.
While the ACA is a fine step in the right direction it is NOT true universal health care; that would be Medicare for all. So when you hear liberal pundits talking about how we now have universal health care, it simply isn’t true.
A couple years ago, Nancy turned 65 and went on Medicare. I asked her if she was going to the doctor more often. In typical Nancy form, she laughed. “Naw. I realized I needed more internal clarity, so I’ve been going to a Jungian dream analyst.”
Wow, I thought. What a great way to use Medicare. In June, I became eligible for Medicare and my little card arrived in the mail. I looked at this sucker that I’ve been paying for my entire working life, and started laughing. Insurance, I have medical insurance. And I immediately wondered if that meant I was supposed to get sick. So I’ve decided to go Nancy’s route and find a Jungian for dream analysis.
In the meantime, I scheduled an appointment with my eye doctor. If you pay cash, he charges $60 for an exam. And he’s good. So for years, once a year, that’s what we have paid him. The other day I called his office to make an appointment.
“Are you still private pay?” the receptionist asked.
“Nope. Medicare.” I felt almost smug saying it.
“Do you, uh, know about the twenty percent that Medicare doesn’t pay?”
“Yes.” I mean, please. For this appointment, if the doc charges his usual $60, the exam will cost me all of twelve bucks.
“Very good. We’ll see you in July.”
The big question mark here is if the eye doc jacks up his prices for Medicare. I’ll know the answer is about two weeks.
Medicare is as close to universal health care as this country will ever see. It costs me a hundred bucks a month, no questions asked. That’s how it should be for every U.S. citizen. Yet, a friend who lived for a time on Hilo, in Hawaii, said that no one on the island accepted Medicare. So even with this program, there are prejudices.
My Canadian friend, Judi, emailed me today asking about the decision by the Supremes. “As a Canadian I don’t understand why a lot of Americans don’t want health care for everyone. Isn’t it a good thing that children with preexisting conditions are now covered, and that health care premiums cannot just be jacked up for no reason? I’m already reading that some of those opposed to the ruling and socialism, are thinking of moving to Canada – and yet we have universal health care. Isn’t that what they are trying to get away from? What am I missing here?”
Well, what she’s missing is that piece of the American soul that shrieks, Don’t mandate what I have to buy. Don’t you dare tell me I have to eat broccoli. Just make it universal, please, but don’t call it socialism.
So this is where we are. Romney vows to repeal the ruling. The Obama administration considers the ruling a victory. Personally, I think we’ve got a long way to go. But right now, hey, I’ve got my Medicare card. Thank you, Lyndon Johnson, who got this program approved in 1965, in just eleven months.