Unfettered Access to Affordable Healthcare Insurance is really about Dignity
When it comes to healthcare and healthcare insurance, I am apolitical. For example, if I were rushed to a hospital by ambulance because of a brutally painful intestinal obstruction (I have battled Severe Crohn’s Disease for 30 years), I wouldn’t care the slightest about whether the doctor or nurse administering my care was a Democrat, Republican or Independent. (I would draw the line at former Vice Presidential candidate, the Honorable Admiral James Stockdale, because he fell asleep during the VP Debates and if that couldn’t keep his attention I doubt my small bowel would titillate the man.) The only obstacle to my treatment and/or to where the ambulance took me for treatment might be whether or not I had health insurance. A formidable issue, for sure, but the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”), otherwise known as “Obamacare,” seeks to eliminate this obstacle so the provision of healthcare can remain apolitical and thereby obtaining and maintaining reasonable health insurance may ultimately be deemed a right instead of a privilege.
The ACA is far from perfect and over time it will require amendments and revisions to best implement these original basic and mbitious intentions. Therefore, we need smart people from diverse backgrounds and ideologies to monitor this law. But at the core of the ACA and Obamacare is the sense of “Dignity” people feel when they know they have control over their own well-being. THAT; is true Freedom. Without THAT; Americans are being kept from reaching their full potential and competing with citizens from other nations in what is now a global world and economy. Without dignity, every American citizen is subservient to their next or first medical crisis which bankrupts their finances, crushes their dreams and leaves them as “broken” souls.
Why did we need the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) ?
Prior to the passage of the ACA, there were many impediments to Americans getting health insurance coverage or to them getting “affordable” health insurance coverage. I believe this is why the law is aptly named the “Affordable Care Act.” These constraints typically had to do with age, gender, patient pre-existing conditions, the financial ability to pay for health insurance premiums, the increasingly high cost of deductibles (or the point at which the insurance pays for a percentage of the cost of care), the decreasing percentage of insurance reimbursement after the deductible is met, patients with chronic conditions exceeding annual or lifetime limits of health insurance coverage, lack of a job, or failure for a reasonably-priced policy to pay for “preventative” care, mental health issues, certain prescription drugs and even hospitalizations, among other factors.
Politics making adoption of ACA more difficult
Despite the seemingly apolitical intentions of the Affordable Care Act, which incidentally is directly based on successful models first introduced by President Obama-opponents, politicians opposed to President Obama are trying to do whatever they can to thwart efforts aimed at creating affordable, quality healthcare insurance and offering it to the greatest number of people. I don’t understand these counter-intuitive efforts especially when they are coupled with no substitute for “Obamacare.” It’s like a Hollywood executive giving constructive “Notes” on a script which merely say, “I don’t like it” or “I don’t like you, so therefore, I don’t like your script.” At least in the latter example, the executive is honest but in either case, what is the writer to do with such unhelpful input?
In the case of the ACA, opponents of the law simply advocate against it without any helpful suggestions or alternatives. I find this particularly strange when in fact these anti-ACA folks could site a number of factors to fortify their objections such as the alleged questionable financing of Obamacare, its inability to reportedly stabilize the gross inefficiencies in healthcare costs, the individual and corporate (i.e., those with over 50 full-time employees) mandates to purchase health insurance coverage and the personal and corporate penalties for failing to comply with the health insurance purchase mandate. Instead, these opponents simply refuse to help ACA proponents (otherwise known as law-abiding people) bring the law into fruition thereby creating unmanageable computer glitches at the federal online insurance marketplace (www.healthcare.gov) providing additional fodder for these seemingly anti-President Obama politicians who are sworn to uphold an office to represent the best interests of their constituent citizens and NOT the interests of a political party or the personal aspirations of a politician who will stop at nothing, including shutdown of the government, to further his own political interests.
But in Kentucky, Dignity and Facts rule over Politics
Yet, in Kentucky, where Governor Steve Beshear implemented the ACA and created a state online insurance exchange, the ACA appears to be working exactly as designed, at least at this early stage. More specifically, while the aforementioned federal website has stumbled and served as a daily reminder of the potential pitfalls of the ACA, Kentucky is being held up as evidence that the health insurance marketplace concept can work in practice and the numbers back it up. That is, more than 26,000 Kentuckians have enrolled in coverage, more than 50,000 have started applications and more than 300,000 unique visitors have investigated what the virtual marketplace has to offer. For a state with approximately 625,000 uninsured people, those are promising figures. (Facts, figures and data taken from TPM DC, “How Kentucky Built the Country’s best Obamacare Website,” written by Dylan Scott, October 28, 2013.)
Governor Beshear: “What we’ve found in Kentucky when we started talking with people was that there was a huge amount of misinformation and misunderstanding. People were very confused.” He continued, “What I’ve been telling them is: ‘Look, you don’t have to like the [P]resident, and you don’t have to like me. It’s not about the [P]resident and it’s not about me. It’s about you, it’s about your family, it’s about your children.'” (Quote taken from TPM DC, “How Kentucky Built the Country’s best Obamacare Website,” written by Dylan Scott, October 28, 2013.)
Health Insurance & Personal Dignity go hand-in-hand
If the approximate Fifteen (15) ACA non-participating States and Governors (see the Map below from The Advisory Board Company) would simply listen to the sick or poor citizens of their respective states, they would understand how being able to consistently take care of one’s health creates a sense of self-respect which cannot be replicated by any other means. These 15 States are: Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Largely for political reasons, these states have chosen NOT to accept new additional Medicaid money from the federal government (which would eventually have to be payed back to the federal government) because it would trigger the applicability of the ACA to their citizens. As a result of these political shenanigans, every benefit regarding affordable health insurance offered to United States citizens from Obamacare is not available to citizens of these states. How can that even be possible? I went to law school and I don’t understand how a Governor of a State can deprive its citizens of a federal law which could literally transform their lives for the better.
If we aspire to be a competitive Nation in the future, we must be ready, willing and able; and we must be reliable; or in other words, we must be healthy. I have been deemed “permanently disabled” for a few years now but for many years I was a productive working member of society so I know how powerful it feels to be able to wake up every day and then be the “best you can be.” You can’t be that person without knowing your health will be consistently taken care of such that an unexpected severe illness or serious accident won’t dramatically affect the course of your life. Affordable health insurance provides that healthy security. At present, the citizens in the aforementioned Fifteen (15) non-ACA states cannot say that. Is this the way the United States should prepare for an even more competitive global society?
Democracy & the Manner in which to Disagree
This Blog Post is not about the dysfunctional political system in the United States. It is about the denial of dignity to American citizens who for the first time can strive toward self-reliance without fears of health problems stopping their progress because they can’t afford to pay to rectify them. As much as President Obama is trying to reign in the escalating costs of healthcare with the ACA, he is also simultaneously concerned about, and acting upon, the competitive capabilities of Americans in a global economy which has no provisions for “time outs” due to medical problems. Those who disagree with the manner in which President Obama is trying to accomplish this should speak out: loudly, respectfully, but with substitute ideas for the ones they believe will not help their constituents accomplish these goals. These alternative substantive arguments will only serve to strengthen the ACA. But are these opponents of Obamacare against the accomplishment of these goals? Is it also possible they are against the man trying to accomplish these goals? Such an open and respectful conflict resolution approach represents the core of American democracy but for some reason I fear opponents of the ACA or Obamacare seem to be more interested in beating the man instead of retooling his ideas for the best interests of American citizens. What is it about President Obama which fuels this openly subject-neutral opposition?
The answer to this question conjures up disgusting thoughts which are contrary to illegal discriminatory practices which I had hoped were put to bed many, many years ago. Sadly, however, I fear we still live in a world of “Haves” and “Have Nots” and/or in a place where the color of a person’s skin somehow affects the legitimacy of his or her arguments. To that end, I pray that opponents to the ACA and Obamacare make their case with facts and figures all the while keeping in mind it is the American people they serve and not some self-serving ephemeral political party whose goal is merely to obtain power because power without constituent-driven ideas could lead to dangerous people occupying influential positions in what is supposed to be a democratic government.
Health Insurance, Dignity & the Future
These “political” people all have health insurance because they have jobs, money or they inherited money. Thus, it’s possible some take their dignity for granted. Their constituents, however, have a real opportunity to better themselves as a result of the ACA and Obamacare and even in these difficult financial times help create a United States that will afford their children better future opportunities than they had. The Governor of Kentucky, a state which President Obama did NOT win in the last election, echoed this exact sentiment above.
Dignity may seem like a small achievement but I suspect it is at the core of every successful civilization. Whether you are healthy and fear ruination from a chronic or catastrophic medical problem or you are disabled and have come to grips with the reality that “control” over your body will just never be, having and maintaining health insurance is something to feel good about. It is something to build upon so that plans can be made and futures created for those you care about. It breeds self-respect, the definition of dignity. But politics, for the sake of political dominance, doesn’t belong in any discussion which seeks to provide dignity to individual citizens. Therefore, for the sake of the future of the United States of America, the provision of affordable healthcare insurance via the ACA and Obamacare is one such discussion and to that end I pray its close association with individual dignity and global ramifications are soon realized and acted upon.