Tuesday, March 3, 2015

...and If You Hate Obamacare...

I am one of those South Carolinians waiting with bated breath for the U.S. less-than-Supreme Court to rule on the Affordable Care Act.  It infuriates me that in this country, so many who are fortunate enough to have health care security will continue to rant and obstruct the program that has given so many of the rest of us the same.  The what's-in-it-for-me crowd is so blinded by greed and rage that they are unable to see how, in fact, making health care a right instead of a privilege has been a major factor in the dramatic upswing in our economy.

We have gone in a short time from an economy crippled by high unemployment, in which the younger job-seekers were shut out because we older folk had to hang on till we were eligible for Medicare.  We stayed with jobs we hated, jobs that hurt our aging bodies, jobs that often did not pay a living wage, so that we could cling to that health insurance that each year cost more and covered less.  Employers called the shots because they knew they had something we needed -- and it wasn't that barely living wage.

The health insurance industry, with a strong house advantage, never lost the insurance gamble.  They took in the young and healthy and priced out of the game anyone who actually might cause them to have to pay out.  The cost of people growing sicker and dying because of lack of adequate health care never showed up on the health insurance industry bottom line.

It is true that the health insurance industry made sure to take care of its own when reform became inevitable.  They made promises in exchange for the ability to make even more money.  They did this by allowing our government to subsidize those fat premiums.  And their lobbyists made sure the public saw the government as the enemy and not the industry itself.

So for pretty much the entirety of President Obama's terms in office, we have been listening to the uninformed parroting the vitriol against health care reform.  I've heard people complain about Obamacare in the same breath that they admitted they were now paying less for coverage.  They rage against "Obamacare" as though it is responsible for the global warming they deny and pretty much everything else (Melissa McCarthy as Tammy:  "Four dollars a gallon.  Thanks, Obamacare.").

It is also true that the ACA has only slowed the rise of health care costs.  Well, if Democrats had spines and Republicans had consciences, we just might be able to tackle the greed of the insurance industry.  I'll bet they could have enough profit without raping the all-too-willing government.  It might even be that regulation of the industry would result in a better product.

But we were left with the worst of capitalism, that bit that decries government involvement, unless of course, it is writing the checks.  If you look closely at your "affordable" health insurance, you will see that the government is picking up the tab for most of what continues to be a ginormous premium.  And yet you still have to pay all those cleverly named additional amounts when you actually need health care.

Yet people like me do have affordable health insurance.  For now.  Because even though all those idiotic votes to repeal in the US House, and despite states with governors with Tea Party dreams like ours, the federal government passed a law that has stood up.  Democracy, right?

But now that libertarian Koch darling, the Cato Institute (support with "the Gift of Stock") is leading the challenge to the ACA in the Supreme Court.  And the hook this time is four words in the law, which may eliminate federal exchanges in states like South Carolina, where we insist that the best way to help people without health insurance is to deny them health insurance.

I only just today learned that argument will be heard on Wednesday.  Most of us, happily insured, are totally uninformed on this fight for our very health and well-being.  I worry that while we look away, we will lose our health care security once again.  And ironically, a lot of those who are going to lose are the Obamacare haters.  Imagine that.

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