Health care — an unhealthy mess

By Reade Brower | Jul 13, 2017

“A society that gets rid of all of its troublemakers goes downhill.”

--- Robert Heinlein, science-fiction author (1907-1988)

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. This is not a bold or dynamic statement. You don’t have to sit down for this one. ...

Health care in our country is a mess. And with political infighting and jockeying, it is the citizens of the United States who suffer.

Let’s start with the simplest of premises; can we hold the feet of our U.S. congressmen and -women, and our U.S. senators to the fire by making them live with the same health care as their constituents?

Nope, they would never vote for that – it is a medicine that very few of them would swallow.

Second, make it a bipartisan effort by requiring a supermajority; this is literally life and death that our politicians are playing with, and the lack of concern and understanding about this is mind-boggling. This is not a political football, to be tossed around, or a game of keep away – this is simply the most important social service that our tax dollars need to be used for to provide for our citizens.

We all understand that the Affordable Care Act isn’t the final answer; in fact it was never intended to be. It was a start, and many supported it because what was in place wasn’t working, and Congress and the Senate weren’t making any movement to fix it.

The notion was to make health insurance available to all and make it affordable. From the start, confusion, costs not under control and divisiveness from those against it created what we have now. This was coupled with cliffs that made it untenable for some whose incomes hover on the line just over poor, but still well under middle-class. The poor are covered, but those on the fringe fall through the cracks and coverage can be elusive.

So fix it; that’s what we need. Instead, the political football keeps getting kicked around, with more and more insurance companies pulling out of states with high risk, and others just nervous about the uncertainty of it all.

“Repeal and Replace” or just take what we have and fix it; it shouldn’t matter which tack is taken. Common sense and prudence should be ruling the roost, not politicians who, even though there was just an election, are already plotting their success, and that of their party, in the next election, rather than serving those who elected them for this term. Shouldn’t they just be doing their job, which includes fixing health care?

For a real life dose of this, I visited with a young adult who is experiencing the “cliff” firsthand -- it is both awful, and scary.

The cliff is when you get to a certain earning level and your health insurance premium skyrockets. I am not sure of the exact amounts, but you’ll get the gist. A person makes under $28,000 a year and his/her insurance is a reasonable $45 per month. That person makes $28,001 and the premium goes from $45 to $200 and the co-pay for medication, needed monthly to regulate an existing condition, goes from $10 to $160.

That’s a cliff. Not only doesn’t it pass the common sense test, it isn’t even humane. Furthermore, what is the incentive to work, and better yourself, when a raise or a second job puts you over the edge and onto the cliff?

There is none. There is no incentive and no sense in working more; my young friend can drop a shift, lie about his income, or look for another job that might include health insurance. This young adult wants to be responsible, wants to go back to school, wants to find a path, but is now faced with “the cliff,” as if real life doesn’t throw young adults enough curve balls.

The cliff is not a new problem; back in 1985 when I first started the Free Press I hired an older adult to stuff inserts into the paper for us. She could only work two hours a week; I paid her $5 per hour and $10 was her maximum income per week – every single dollar made after that was subject to lessened benefits by 100 percent. Yes, 100 percent -- if she made $30 a week, her benefits would drop by $20, so her net for the week would still be $10. She told me it made no sense for her to work more than two hours a week, and she didn’t.

Another single mother, who worked her ass off, full-time, got a well deserved raise. I handed her the first paycheck after giving her the news and watched her face drop when she opened it. I inquired; Didn’t the raise come through?” She answered; “Yes, but my take-home is less, as now my housing subsidy is gone.” I offered to rescind her raise, if she wanted. She didn’t hesitate; she looked me in the eye and said “absolutely not, I earned that raise and how am I ever going to get ahead if I have that attitude?” She was rare and special; looking downwind is not usually easy for people living on the edge.

Cliffs, built in by the politicians, fail every common sense rule in the book.

Some of our elected officials get it, but when will the rest of them put the people ahead of partisan politics and take care of the American people they were elected to serve?

My guess – when hell freezes over.

Comments (1)
Posted by: John Alexander | Jul 13, 2017 07:17

Exactly!  I console myself that it is just a matter of time. Maybe it will take one or two more election cycles.  I certainly hope so



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