I have a pre-existing condition. As a freelance writer, I pay not only the employee’s portion of my taxes, but the employer’s part as well. I also pay for my own health insurance. This is not an insignificant amount of money, at least not to me. I just sent off a hefty payment to the IRS for my first quarter taxes, and I have health insurance premiums due this week.
With all that said, I could not support Obamacare more if it were battered, deep fried, and covered in cheese. I support it so much that I would welcome a tax hike to pay for comprehensive, government-run healthcare with arms flung open wide.
Why would I say that? I mean, in the eyes of the state and the IRS, I’m a small business, a class of folks associated with smaller government and lower taxes. I already bear a considerable tax burden for my income level, and giving the government more of my hard-earned money (you spend every Tuesday night at a city council or commission meeting and tell me stripping wouldn’t be easier) is something I will definitely feel in my wallet. Still, that’s what I want.
See, I can’t afford traditional coverage. Or, rather, I won’t. I guess I could go without that new pair of underwear, forego my twice-annual haircut, and... and you know what? It still wouldn’t be enough to pay for health insurance that would cover routine visits. I am lucky enough to make too much money for Medicaid, but it still isn’t enough to buy decent health insurance.
What I have instead is something called “major medical.” I pay $70 every month for catastrophic coverage, which means I’m covered if I go to the hospital to have my arm amputated, but not treatment for the infection that will lead to the amputation. I also need to have continuous coverage because of that pre-existing condition I mentioned. See, if I don’t keep insurance, if I ever do buy a full policy, the insurance companies won’t pay for anything that’s wrong with me already. Because that would actually, you know, cost them money. And who wants to insure sick people? That’s just bad business.
Some have suggested I could get a full time job at a company large enough to offer benefits (because full time jobs with benefits just drop from the skies these days). The reality of that? I have two degrees, a dusty web developer certification from St. Petersburg College, and more than a few summers spent running pools for the YMCA. My best chances for full-time employment with healthcare benefits involve me asking you would like to supersize your order or if you found everything you needed on aisle 12. Even then, the reality is that yes, I would have healthcare, but not much else, because those jobs rarely pay entry-level employees a living wage. So I could get health insurance - for an exorbitant amount – but probably not be able to afford to pay my car insurance. The upside, if you could call it that, is if I got pregnant I could then most likely qualify for Medicaid. Maybe. It’s a horrible system.
And President Obama has taken the first step towards fixing it. For the first time ever, because I have insurance – any insurance at all – I can get a mammogram once a year and an annual well-woman exam at no additional cost. That’s huge, y’all: when I started freelancing, I had to decide between paying the power bill and getting a pap smear. Clearly, I was also broke, and that didn’t help, but thanks to Obamacare, I will never have to make that choice again. I love that we are de-profitizing my body.
In all honesty, I can’t blame a business for trying to turn a profit. I can, however, blame our politicians for allowing my physical condition to be determined by how a company’s balance sheet looks at the end of the fiscal quarter. Businesses have a responsibility to their shareholders, whether they’re selling mops or health. Insurance is a business, nothing more, and they have a corporate, not moral responsibility.
There are times when the government needs to intervene. This is one of them. Actually, I think the government should make health insurance for anything non-catastrophic illegal, because those policies are, in fact, the problem. Right now, the insurance never pays doctors the full amount they bill, so the doctors must bill more to get a reasonable rate. It’s also why doctors have to see some ridiculous amount of patients every hour just to keep the lights on – and that affects you whether you have great health insurance or none at all. Remove health insurance, and doctors get full payment from people, and costs go down because they’re getting it all, not just a percentage. The way the system works now is a shining example of capitalism.
Which I support, but not when it comes to my health. Then, I support Obamacare.
Contact Cathy Salustri at CathySalustri@theGabber.com. Oh, and if you receive Medicare and want to contact her to complain about her views, don’t bother. You’re already getting Obamacare.