The Affordable Care Act: Being Sick

5 Apr

The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress and signed by the President; Barack Obama didn’t just write it on a napkin. I grow ever weary of hearing so-called journalists referring to this landmark legislation as “Obamacare.”  I am hard-pressed to believe there is not a trace of racism there.  Even here in enlightened Portland, Channel 2 and Channel 8 have repeatedly referred to the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare.”  Yes, how dare President Obama want all Americans to have health insurance?  Contrast this to the supporters of the GOP candidates during the debates: they cheered for death rather than caring for all Americans.

First, let us take a real look at what the Affordable Healthcare Act does.  This law aims to improve our current health care system by increasing access to health coverage for all Americans and introducing new protections for people who have health insurance. Furthermore, the Act is not linked to employment, thus some small businesses with fewer than 25 employees can get help paying for the cost of providing health insurance; insurance companies can’t deny health coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions; insurance companies can’t place dollar limits on the health care they cover in your lifetime. These are just a few of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act which is designed to help those who have barriers to accessing healthcare.  Obviously, I have a few choice words for the Supreme Court Justices who are part of the 1% and seem poised to abolish the Act under the guise of its constitutionality.  Let us not forget that their job is to interpret the constitution, not set an agenda for a white heterosexual Christian male discourse.

What happened to the social contract?  Is Elizabeth Warren the only politician who knows about the social contract? Remember that the Affordable Care Act that garnered support from the full congress is not dissimilar to the healthcare reform proposed by Mr. Millionaire Flip Flop, Mitt Romney.

Health insurance has really hit my family hard recently, as it has hit many people in the United States.  Out of the top six industrialized nations, the U.S. falls dead last in health coverage for its citizens as well as quality of healthcare.  However, we rank first in the cost of this worst healthcare.

Insurance became quite scary for my family when my husband lost his job and we are now without any source of income.  Unfortunately, I started to become ill back in November of 2011. I am stubborn and also worried about how to pay for doctor’s appointments and for any prescriptions.  Sadly, two weeks ago, I cracked a rib during a coughing spasm, so my husband forced me to see our primary care physician.  We have a wonderfully kind and caring doctor and he and my husband pressured me to have a CT-Scan immediately.

I was rushed to St. Vincent’s hospital here in Portland where the CT-Scan showed that I had several pulmonary embolisms on both my lungs.  They admitted me to the hospital immediately and started me on blood thinners. I was unaware how serious blood clots on your lungs can be, but it was impressed upon me by many people at the hospital how many people die from pulmonary embolisms.  Needless to say, both my husband and I were quite scared. What circled in the back of my mind was also how are we going to pay for all of this? Surely, I am not the only one in the United States who is terrified of being sick and how to afford treatment.

I am back home now and my poor husband has to give me injections in my stomach of Lovenox, a blood thinner…not a trip to chuckle town. What sticks in my craw is that the 1% of Americans, many of whom hold positions in our government, never have to think about retirement accounts or how to afford healthcare, but where does that leave the rest of us?  I strongly recommend the PBS special Sick Around the World just to see how horrible and unfair our health system is here in the United States. Fair care should be common sense. It shouldn’t take an experience like mine to demonstrate how badly our system needs to be fixed. The Affordable Care Act is just the reasonable first step on that path.

17 Responses to “The Affordable Care Act: Being Sick”

  1. Christine Noble April 5, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    The Affordable Care act is a deeply flawed law for many reasons not the least of which is it puts more money in the coffers of those that created the mess in the first place, the better to buy politicians to keep on with their legal graft of the American people.

    That said, the President is hardly alone in the blame for it. Indeed, his part is relatively small. Republican obstructionists and Blue Dog Democrat turncoats pushed the administration into a corner. Did he makes some bad choices in the process? Sure but who wouldn’t in those circumstances?

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt April 5, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

      You are absolutely right Christine. Sadly, President Obama’s original proposal was far better but immediately blocked by Republicans and so called “Democrats.” That being said, I would hate to see this plan wholly dismantled, for it is a step in the right direction.

      • James Queale April 5, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

        I come from a country with universal healthcare (Canada) and I constantly see it get bashed (by the US) as being horrible. Canada is not alone of course in getting bashed. I know we are not #1 in healthcare, but at least no one has gone bankrupt from getting treated. I have had family members with serious diseases and they have SURVIVED. They paid nothing. My sister recently had her first child and was not faced with a hospital bill afterwards. All my life when I was sick, I immediately went to one of our many free clinics and got checked out and medicated right away. Until coming to America, I thought every country saw the importance of covering everyone no matter the cost. Perhaps healthcare would not be such a burden if some of the warmongers in congress would take a chill pill.

        Of course, no system for healthcare is perfect, but having a society where millions are not covered, does not create a thriving nation. If not having universal healthcare makes America better then why is America not #1?

        PS: Sorry, I needed to rant. LOL!

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt April 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

        Jamie, I love your rant. Yes, here in the United States, we do not value human life, unless your are a right wing Republican and then you only value a fetus! Health insurance should not be tied to employment! Rant all you like, dear heart!

  2. nevercontrary April 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    First my comment on this blog.
    It blows my mind that it is “unconstitutional” to make everyone have healthcare, but not to tell me who I can marry. Not to require me to pay into government retirement I may or may not get. Not to bully a kid if you can come up with a religious reason to, and now in my state

    I hereby nominate Bobby Jindal as evil guy of the week. for this law, for the new education reform, for letting the law that protected gays from being fired for being gay expire, for everything he does every day.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt April 5, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

      Bonnie, you make great points, as you usually do. I love your nomination for Bigot of the Week.

  3. nevercontrary April 5, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    P.S. I hope you get better soon. I knew something was up, you had been quieter than usual. I will be sending warm thoughts your way.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt April 5, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

      Thanks, Bonnie. Yes, I’m afraid being in hospital and just really sick have kept me rather quiet. I hope to be feeling better soon!

  4. Jay April 5, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    The first comment makes fair points: like many on the Left, I would prefer a single-payer system OR a government insurance option under the Affordable Care Act OR something like Medicare for all, where everyone has a basic level of coverage, and gap insurance could remain as a private marketplace. But none of those (clearly superior in my opinion) options were politically possible, and that wasn’t President Obama’s fault.

    What we have left is a third or fourth best law, but I agree it is better than nothing. What’s ironic is that a more overt government-controlled system wouldn’t be facing the legal challenges that the individual mandate to purchase private insurance is facing.

    I’ve spent much of my adult life uninsured, and am again in that position, and it is mere luck that I haven’t had to cope with a life-threatening illness. It is a stressful way to live, and I’m very sympathetic to your illness, Michael. While not all of the Supreme Court Justices are independently wealthy, they all have had excellent health insurance for all their lives, and some of them truly do not seem to “get” the conundrum that many low-income people without insurance are in–a little too rich to qualify for Medicaid, but too poor to be able to afford private insurance.

    • Jay April 5, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

      I’m sympathetic regarding your illness, Michael. The way I phrased it originally, it might be misconstrued that I feel sympathy for your embolisms themselves, the nasty little buggers.

      Best wishes and love to you and Robert–and I hope you get well soon!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt April 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

      Beautifully and eloquently said Jay! Yes, how ironic that a far more overt action from the government would not be facing the same legal challenges. Jay, I really think you would enjoy Sick Around the World, if you have not already seen it. I hate that you have no health insurance and it seems criminal to me that you do not, thus health insurance should not be tied to employment; it should be granted to all of us for being humans.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt April 5, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

        Thank you. Robert is taking very good care of me. I do feel sorry for him, for he has to give me shots in my stomach.

        All of our love,

      • Jay April 6, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

        Thanks for the recommendation, but I saw Sick Around the World when it was originally broadcast, and I also saw a rerun last year. I agree it is fascinating–and it puts the lie to the silly right-wing meme that the only alternative to our current healthcare system is ‘socialized medicine.’ There are a variety of ways of providing universal coverage–it isn’t a false either/or choice between the massively flawed and inefficient US-system and some Straw Man government take-over.

        Other than Daily Show, Colbert, and Modern Family (which I started watching thanks to you), I almost exclusively watch PBS. Sick Around the World was produced for FrontLine, and was a very strong episode in what is a consistently excellent show for long-form news and analysis. Nobody on TV covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Frontline.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt April 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

        I love that you are now watching Modern Family 🙂 Yes, I have to say that Frontline is one of the best PBS programs that exist. I had figured you probably had already seen Sick Around the World. Any chance you might be able to get away for a visit? Robert and I would love to see you!

  5. Jane Ayres April 6, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    Until Jim bowed down and kissed the real live employer’s shoes (and now HE has to wear shows and pants to work), we had to provide our own insurance. Expensive as it was, it was our only option, because our child’s medical bills were many hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The premiums went up every year until we could afford either insurance or a mortgage, but not both.

    To allow the for-profit companies to decide what health care we can have is obscene. To allow them to decide what sort of treatment is appropriate, rather than leaving it to a doctor and patient to discuss is obscene. To fail to provide the right to the best health possible to each and every person is obscene.

    Joining the exclusive club of of families of children with health needs (otherwise known as “Genetic Drift Trailer Trash”) 23 years ago opened my eyes to the inequities of our health care system.

    C was on Medicaid to help pay her bills, as were the children of almost all of my friends. For a Medicaid waiver for a child with disabilities, we had to go to DFCS and wait several hours (with the child) to apply for our cards, and return bimonthly to get another one. We had to find doctors and specialists who would take Medicaid every year to re-certify our children and fill out 20 pages of forms. We had to do it way ahead of time, because Social Services takes months to get through the applications, and they have to be approved by Medicaid. C lost her Medicaid when she was five because the DFCS employee let her re-application sit on the desk too long.

    Rant ended. A new rant begins:

    Michael and Robert, take care of yourselves. Michael, listen to your body, and throw the trust to the Universe that if you do right by yourself and those you love, the Universe does right by you. Robert – keep shooting than man up – it gets pretty easy. I have shot up three people so far, including myself, and it’s stunning how callous you can get!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt April 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

      My Dearest Jane,

      What a strong and eloquent response. Thank you for commenting. I am very fortunate, for I have a spouse that take such good care of me, but yet we still are in an unfortunate financial crisis, as are so many in our country right now. We are also very fortunate to have such loving friends like you and Jim. So when are you coming to visit?


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