Monday, July 30, 2012

Why we need Obamacare

I heard a story on the radio the other day. It was about a local artist, a singer/songwriter who was having a farewell concert. He and his wife were moving to Norway because he has a pre-existing medical condition and he can’t get medical insurance in the United States. I had never heard of him before, but when they played his music, it was really good and I felt sad that he was leaving.

I have a friend who got laid off recently. He is utterly employable and within two weeks, he had 9 job offers to choose between. His criteria for choosing a new job however, was not based on which company offered him the most money, or which he thought was the best fit. It was based solely on which company had the best insurance coverage for his son, who has cerebral palsy.

I have another friend who would like to start his own company. He’s smart, he’s capable, he has people who believe in his business model. But if he leaves his current job, he loses the group health plan that he and his children are on. And because of a pre-existing condition (a diagnosis of depression 10 years ago) he can’t get private health insurance.

When my husband lost a job a few years ago. I was terrified. Not because I thought we might be homeless, or starve, but because I knew my son Oskar, who has a rare chromosomal disorder was uninsurable unless we had a group health plan through a large company. (Thanks to the provisions of Obamacare already in effect, this is no longer the case. Insurance companies can’t deny children with pre-existing conditions coverage)

There are a lot of people talking about how under Obamacare, health insurance will affect business and economic development. Newsflash. Health insurance already affects business. How can it not affect society when artists have to leave the country, and people don’t start companies because they can’t get insured?

Why should any industry, especially one with such a reputation for greed and profiteering, have this kind of power over people’s lives?

I have to add, I’ve never actually met anyone who didn’t WANT health insurance. I’ve met quite a few people who can’t afford it, or who don’t need it badly enough yet to think it’s worth it, but never anyone who just didn’t want it. Have you?

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