A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Affordable Healthcare

At some point this week or next, millions of Americans will learn if the state of their health is Constitutional. Oh sure, the Founding Fathers struggled to ensure “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, but the right to survive a life-threatening illness without losing your house to the local medical professions must have been overlooked. Perhaps that idea died in committee…

There have been so many nasty things said about Obamacare that I can’t figure out what is correct anymore. Some say it’ll be the beginning of a long slide down the slippery slope into Socialism. This argument ignores the fact that a form of socialized medicine has been in place since 1965. You may have heard of it: it’s called Medicare. Some even argue that Obamacare will need to be funded by cutting spending on Medicare. So let’s get this straight: Obama will cut socialized medicine to fund his socialized medicine plan which the naysayers say is bad?

Healthcare reform opponents scream, “It’s bad that it exists, it’s bad that it’s getting cut….it’s just bad all over." Yet how many TEA Partiers over the age of 65 are lining up to forsake those benefits. Not many…. 

Even Obama’s opponents admit that there are a few good things about Obamacare. Twenty-somethings understandably like the idea that they can stay on their parents’ policy until their 26, to give them time to get a job which will actually allow them to pay for their own coverage…or so the theory goes.   

Sick people everywhere like the idea that insurance carriers will no longer be able to deny coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Just that idea alone - borne out of the experiences that Obama witnessed during his dying mother's final months of life - could mean the difference between meaningful healthcare and suffering for  millions of us.

I say us because, as a heart patient, I could very easily be a candidate for denial for a pre-existing condition. Under the right conditions, such as a prolonged period of unemployment coupled with a lapse of health insurance coverage of at least six months, and any condition I develop during this time would be deemed not coverable by the insurance gods, also known as underwriters. And, if said condition worsens and becomes chronic which may require constant monitoring by healthcare professionals, then I will be responsible for the full cost.

Or I could just save a lot of time and money and just allow the condition to kill me. Many Americans may make that decision without a ban on pre-existing condition clauses in place.

Of course, I could delude myself into thinking that I will never be unemployed, but, alas, we should never say never. This is particularly true since I had a six month period of being occupationally challenged within the last two years, and (irony of ironies) I was released from the very industry which stands to benefit greatly from Obamacare, namely the health insurance industry.

Yes, I’ve lost count of how many nights I’ve laughed myself to sleep with this bit of irony…not!

Unfortunately, the idea of having a health insurance policy which has no dollar limits and allows those with pre-existing conditions to be insured (among other ideas that would give insurance executives apoplexy), requires a large base of healthy people paying money into a system which the law of health insurance underwriters averages dictates will very seldom need to have any claims paid. The health insurance industry would not survive for very long if they pay out more money in claims than they take in premiums. This necessitates the idea of requiring all Americans to have health insurance; please note not buy health insurance, but just to have health insurance. This part of the law would be enforced with a penalty levied by the IRS at tax return time.

No one seems to object to the amount of the penalty; I’ve heard the figure of $700 posed as an example of what the penalty would cost. Indeed, if the penalty is indeed just $700, many might opt not to purchase insurance if they don’t have coverage through their job. Premiums for a decent policy that might pay some claims within the space of a policy year (i.e., those with a low deductible) will most likely cost more per month than the total annual penalty itself. Naturally, this would put pressure on health insurers to price their products more modestly than now, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

Of course, the health insurance industry will make sure it survives no matter how the Supreme Court decides. They have already phased in the concept of “cost-sharing” which translated from health-insurance-speak means higher deductibles and higher coinsurance percentages for the insured. Likewise, the healthcare industry will do everything it can to improve its bottom line.  Coders and billers are being trained and certified to bill services correctly for the legal, maximum benefits to which physicians and hospitals are entitled. In this respect, the healthcare and health insurance industries may find it prudent to add employees in anticipation of the millions of Americans who will be gaining health insurance, and subsequently have the wherewithal to receive medical treatment. Oh, but that means Obamacare will be creating jobs and not killing them. Yes, that does mean Obamacare will be creating jobs, and not killing them.  (I wrote that phrase twice for the benefit of any of my readers who believe everything Fox News tells them to believe.) 

So we await the decision of nine jurists who will determine if the lives of millions of Americans are worth saving for their own pursuits of liberty and happiness. No pressure, people. After all, it’s only the lives of people at stake….

(Thank you for reading. If you’re uninsured and you don’t believe in prayer, this might be a good time to change your beliefs.)


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