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Archive for the ‘health insurance’ Category

This week the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments on what has come to be known as “Obamacare,” a national health care program that U.S. Presidents have, for decades, tried to enact in one form or another.  The current form of health care, which was at least partly modeled on that now in effect in my home state of Massachusetts, has been the whipping child for vicious criticism from large corporations, lobbyists, and political conservatives and libertarians, since way before it was enacted.  It’s hard to imagine what might happen by the time some of the key points of health care legislation become law more than a year from now, given how much heat has already been drawn on the parts of this legislation that have already been enacted.

While I completely understand why corporations in the health care business don’t like the legislation, it’s hard for me to understand why individuals – even those who don’t like the President – have gone after it.  Yes, it requires people to have health care coverage.  But at its core it also seeks to provide much-needed health care to those who otherwise would have none and who, in many states, clog emergency rooms seeking treatment for basic matters of care.  It provides a much-needed safety net for the people who live, or have fallen, to the lower rungs of the economic ladder – and right now, that includes me and my family.  To cut to the point:  I’ve had the opportunity to see the Massachusetts model, and to benefit from it.  And it works.

When I was laid off from the job I’d held for more than twenty years, I went on COBRA, as most people in my circumstance would do.  I paid plenty for it, and received what I consider to be pretty mediocre health coverage under the plan my previous employer had negotiated.  I had to haggle and fight for far too much and shell out very large co-pays when I had very little money.  Then COBRA expired and I — still looking for work — realized that we would be financially ruined if I paid the full amount for health care coverage.  So I applied for MassHealth coverage, and fortunately, was approved.  We are receiving more efficient health care services than I had under my previous employer, and I feel like I’m being treated like a human being in the process — you know, all that stuff I believe about the inherent worth and dignity of people really does include talking with respectful people in customer service who actually know what your policy covers and who can help you figure out who to call with questions.

Now I’m recuperating from a much-needed total knee replacement that the insurance plan covered, and my level of care has been just fine.  My prescriptions are affordable, I’m getting the physical therapy I need, and I’m on the road to being able to make a good recovery and regain my mobility and my health.  Isn’t this part of the promise of reasonable, dignified health care coverage for all that Teddy Kennedy fought for, for so many years, and that has been, at least subliminally, something that one would expect the United States of America would offer its citizens?  And isn’t it possible that Mitt Romney — before he reversed himself on the campaign trail — recognized that, from a business standpoint, this kind of health care option actually served the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by allowing our health care providers to offer better service, while reducing the costs that the Commonwealth had to assume for those who were otherwise uninsured?

My friends, who share my political bent, sometimes look at me in amazement when I openly express my gratitude to Romney for having signed this health care program into law.  But I’m serious:  my family would be uninsured, and in even rockier financial shape than we are now, without it.  So as the Court hears the arguments this week on the pieces of legislation the President fought hard to enact — so that many of you out there might be covered under similar kinds of insurance if you found yourselves without private health care — think about me for a minute.  Remember that your position might not always provide you with health care coverage – or coverage that you can afford.  Even if you are young, healthy, and thinking, “I don’t need health insurance now,” there might come a moment — perhaps, arriving with no warning — that makes it an absolute necessity.  And having an option that offers you regular check-ups and needed access to specialists just might end up saving the state, and your family, from financial ruin.  And my friends, that might be what economic recovery is all about.

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