Monday, July 23, 2012

Treason! Who knew?

I went to the doctor last week to get a CT scan of my head and sinuses—something I've needed to do for months but have put off because I didn't have health insurance. Now, thanks to the much maligned Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) I have insurance that I can almost afford even though I am officially a cancer survivor with high blood pressure and multiple kidney stones.
One of the more amenable provisions of ObamaCare is the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Program. It enables people like me, people who really need insurance, to get it even though the insurance companies and their enablers would rather that we just die already because—well, they don't have to pay for that. I've been turned down for medical insurance multiple times because of my ongoing health issues—issues which have only gotten worse because they weren't getting any attention. As you can probably imagine, this has been worrisome.

The Tea Party Republican solution
to runaway health care costs.

When I lost my job I had COBRA. This allowed me to continue on my former employer's group policy, although at an inflated rate. Unfortunately, COBRA is only available for 18 months. At the end of 18 months I had to apply for some kind of private continuation policy. The best option, in fact the only option because of my rather serious preexisting conditions, was a guaranteed issue policy available under the provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Availability Act (HIPAA).
I got quotes for several of these, and, because of the preexisting conditions, they were going to cost me a minimum of $24,000 per year. This would have been a hard nut to crack on unemployment that totaled only $14,400. Hardly anything would have been left over to pay the rent, electricity, groceries, and put fuel in the yacht. Clearly something was going to have to give, and that something was health insurance.
Naturally this put me at considerable risk of a premature if not untimely death. Losing my job wasn't exactly a death sentence. It was something more like mandatory Russian Roulette. Like Russian Roulette, the longer you play, the worse your odds. Even though I have insurance now, it may be too late. I may already have played too long.
It's going to take months to find out what all is wrong with me before the doctors can start fixing it. Hopefully we will make some progress in that direction before the Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act in the interest of fiscal responsibility and preservation of our basic American liberties.
I am a little conflicted about this. It never occurred to me that my right to life would be held hostage to the insurance companies' right to continue to muck up the American health care system. Now I find that I'm not only a whiny, sniveling layabout trying to milk the system of its bounty, I am a traitor to American values as well.
A real patriot would just suck it up and quietly off himself. Of course a real patriot has health insurance, so this is kind of a moot point. It's only after you lose your health insurance and find yourself in a situation where it is difficult or impossible to get coverage that you realize that your loyalty to the system is not a two-way street. As soon as you become a burden to the privileged, the enfranchised, and the entitled, you are a risk that American Exceptionalism does not care to afford.
If you would believe statistics, many of us are within a few paychecks of this kind of treasonous dependence, yet still choose to believe in and vote up the policies that keep us in this precarious servitude. Go figure.

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