Thursday, September 10, 2009
Heath Care Reform Now!
Spoiler alert: This post gets all political and stuff. I'm a hybrid-driving, soy-latte drinking, NPR donating liberal. I'm pro-health care reform and anti-stupidity. I apologize in advance if this post offends anyone.
I like our President. In fact, sometimes, like last night, when he is speechifying and looking so good doing it, I like him like him. I was in Grant Park the night he accepted the job and, like everyone else who shut down the streets of downtown Chicago celebrating, will never forget the joy, exhilaration, and, yes, hope I felt that night.
Things haven't been going too great recently for the Prez, and his health care reform plan has divided the nation. Across the country, ill-informed citizens have gathered at town halls to denounce phantom measures in the bill (my favorite: mandated abortions -- how exactly does that work?) and rally against big scary "socialist" Obamacare and its grandma-plug pullin', illegal-immigrant-protectin' ways, all while waving assault rifles and shushing dissent. Intelligent discourse on the subject has been critically depleted, and instead of thoughtful discussion about what actually is in the bill, we're shouting at each other about unicorns, Sasquatches, death panels, and other fictional constructs. The left has offered some characteristically muted rebuttals, but it's it the Joe Wilsons of the world who have stolen the spotlight.
The impassioned protests and mobilization of the far right against health care reform has one goal: keep everything just like it is because (ostensibly) everything is just fine. To me, the fervent defense of the insurance industry as it currently exists would have seemed as unlikely as a protective rally in favor of, say, the IRS, but apparently some people out there feel very strongly about keeping the status quo (and are even willing to lose digits over it). Most of these people, naturally, are insured, whether through private companies or Medicare (there's a head-scratcher: people insured by a government-run bureaucracy protesting government-run health care). Unfortunately, the stories and voices of the uninsured have been lost in the cacophony.
I'm for health care reform, and I have health insurance. More importantly, I have really really good health insurance. So far this year, I've racked up nearly ten thousand dollars in charges for doctors appointments, tests, and scans, and I haven't paid a penny for it. (I haven't yet been approved for my surgery this December, but I'm optimistic.) Moreover, since my plan allows for out-of-network care, I have had the opportunity to consult with the best doctors and chose the exact team I want to do my surgery in exactly the way I want it (I didn't realize what a luxury this was until I got an email from a fellow BRCA babe who told me she couldn't see the doctors she wants for the kind of procedure she wants because her coverage won't let her go out of state). I'm very lucky.
But in another way I'm not. I have, despite what legislation passed to prevent discrimination might intend, what could be considered by private insurers a preexisting condition (and if my mutated genes ever do actually cause cancer that I manage to survive, well, there's your preexisting condition right there). Right now I'm covered under a group policy and cannot be dropped because of my BRCA status, but if my husband and I ever decided to start our own business, for example, and purchase individual policies, I would likely run into trouble.
To me, one of the strongest reasons -- especially in the BRCA, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer communities -- to rally for health care reform is that it eliminates discrimination based on preexisting conditions; insurance companies will not longer be able to deny coverage or claims based on medical history. This is a real benefit, and one that far too few people are shouting about. (Komen has more about aspects of reform of particular interest to breast cancer patients and survivors.) I can't even begin to imagine what this journey would be like if I was without insurance; it almost brings tears to my eyes to imagine women without access to preventative surgeries, let alone women with breast cancer who can't afford treatment.
The health care reform fight has angered me (especially when I read about groups trying to scare breast cancer patients with hogwash about Obama's plan restricting access to life-saving medications and technologies; I'll let Rachel Maddow get all irate/incredulous for me) and saddened me. But it's also politicized me. We all have a stake in this, and just because I'm lucky enough to have health care (and good health care at that) doesn't mean I will protest change. For me, so far, the system has worked. But for so many others, it has failed them. I believe everyone should have access to the kind of care I do; it's time we fix our broken health care system.