I’m really glad that Congress passed the Health Care Reform bill today.
A lot of people (or at least a very vocal segment of the population) look at these reforms as some sort of handout, and I have seen and heard a lot of references to people on welfare, people who don’t work for a living, and so on. What I think these people fail to realize is that our tax dollars already pay for all of those people to get health insurance. And what is wrong with that, exactly? Are they concerned that if people have to stay below a really low income level to continue to receive benefits, then they won’t have any incentive to go out and work?
I am concerned about that, and that’s why I’m glad the reform bill passed.
The other part of this whole “handout” meme is that it is somehow un-American to get any type of support from the government, and people should be more self-sufficient. Are they concerned that young adults getting out of college will have a hard time moving out and becoming independent? Well, they already do have a hard time becoming independent, and many parents support their offspring in various ways well into their 20s. Having to worry less about getting benefits and concentrating more on getting their careers established and getting on their feet will hopefully help that. Besides, their parents can always choose to kick them off the plan or have them contribute their share of the premium if they choose. That’s a parenting decision, not a government decision – but at least now thay have the option of extending good, affordable group plan benefits to people who might not otherwise get them.
Regarding self-sufficiency, the options that will become available after these reforms mean that it will be more realistic for people to start their own small businesses or work independently, without having to worry that they are leaving themselves and their loved ones without a safety net in the event of catastrophic illness or say, a pregnancy. What is more American than entrepeneurship? Do you think the Founding Fathers really expected that we should all end up working for large corporations or the government? (I will save my comments about how deliciously ironic it is that a lot of people who view any type of government involvement in healthcare as an abomination are people who have benefits that are paid for by taxpayer dollars, and who luuuurrrve Medicare…oh wait, I guess I just said it.)
Even if I believe the group of people who say that these health care changes will cost us one trillion dollars over the next ten years (and I don’t), I’d still rather have that money spent on keeping our citizens healthy, happy, and productive than on killing people in a nation that never seriously threatened our national security. I know that the comparison is not that facile, but I do feel compelled to point out that there seems to be some funny lines drawn about where “we” spend “our” money. Also, if my premiums go up slightly on my very, very good health insurance plan in order to ensure more sensible coverage and treatment for other people – I’m OK with that.
If you are one of the people who bristles at the idea of being “forced” to have health insurance coverage, then I am sorry. But if you choose not to cover yourself, you better have the money to pay when you do get sick or need care. Otherwise, kindly refrain from using my money to go to the emergency room in that inevitable circumstance.
Most people are one or two crappy twists of fate away from being in a situation where they or a loved one in need of medical care with no means to pay for appropriate treatment. I know it’s hard to think about, but it’s essential that you do before judging whether or not these reforms were needed. How do you get your health insurance? What happens if the policyholder loses their job? Do you know all of the things that are not covered under COBRA, or if you would even be eligible? How much money do you have in the bank? Enough to pay $100K for emergency open heart surgery, or $30K for the safe delivery of your child?
As the great Jerry Maguire once said, we live in a cynical, cynical world. I, myself can fall into that trap sometimes. But no one wants to see kids left without health coverage, or parents who are demoralized because they can’t work their families out of the poverty level for fear of losing their benefits. No one wants to see senior citizens choosing between food and their medicine. Everyone wants to see those strange characters who artificially tan themselves into skin cancer taxed for that particular brand of crazy. (Or is that just me?)
Is this a perfect solution that will meet everyone’s needs? No. That probably doesn’t exist. But this is heading us in the right direction, I think.
So, Fabulous Thing #80: Health care reform.