Why Preserve The Current Health Care System?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

This is personaI. If you’re a Republican I want to know why you think it’s worth shutting down the U.S. government to destroy Obamacare and maintain a totally dysfunctional health care system. But more than that, I want to know what you have against my family.

My brother died three weeks ago. He didn’t have health insurance. Apparently he wasn't sick enough and poor enough to qualify for TennCare, the Tennessee version of Medicaid, but he was too poor and too sick to buy “normal” health insurance. Several times during a long illness he got sick enough to need hospital care. Since he wasn’t insured all they did was patch him up and send him home. Repeatedly. Until he collapsed and they couldn’t patch him up and he died. His funeral was on my 58th birthday.

He got just enough medical attention to keep him alive for a while, tens of thousands of dollars of it. Since he wasn’t insured there’s no one to pay his medical bills except all of us, in higher insurance costs, higher hospital bills and  taxes. If he’d lived another few months he’d have been able to get insurance. It might not have saved his life, but his bills would have been paid. 

My daughter has breast cancer. She does have health insurance through her school, but she’s a college student and the coverage she can afford is lousy. Her mother and I help, but our finances aren’t that great either, so my daughter is having a fundraiser to help pay her deductibles and co-pays. Since she’s not in eminent danger of dying, the threat is to stop her chemotherapy three-quarters of the way through and to cancel her surgery if she can’t pay.

Then there’s me. I have a “pre-existing condition” so in the old system I can’t get health insurance in the normal market. I had employee-sponsored health insurance all my working life until the company I worked for collapsed a few years ago. Now I’m self-employed and I’m on my own. In Florida I go into a “high risk” insurance pool so I get a chance to buy insurance for about $1,100 a month. In some other states I couldn’t buy insurance at all. This because I have a condition that a $130 a month prescription controls.  My situation isn’t tragic, but I’m very much looking forward to having a choice of insurance plans that I might be able to afford.

If I was working for minimum wage $1,100 would be more than my monthly net income. Medicaid could help, if the Florida legislature hadn’t turned down the federal Medicaid funding that’s part of Obamacare

If you support the Republicans in Congress, the only alternative you offer to Obamacare is to say “No” and maintain the old system. The United States spends more tax dollars on health care per person than any other country in the world, and more private money as well. The old system let my brother die and makes my daughter stage a fundraiser for her tumor. This is the “health care” system you want to preserve?

Tell me why. 

Frank Greene
St. Elmo and Inlet Beach, Fla.

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