Get Sick And You Don’t Want To Die: Obamacare Saves Lives | Jive in the [415] Blog | Gay LGBT News Political Commentary

June 29, 2012

Get Sick And You Don’t Want To Die: Obamacare Saves Lives

A group of protesters argue about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) outside the Supreme Court building.
People Outside the Supreme Court argue about Obamacare.

The new healthcare law is good for our economy and good for the uninsured.

By Roy Steele

While I was surfing the net Thursday morning I saw a news feed for CBS News, and I was groggy and not wearing my glasses. I thought it was too early for a big Supreme Court decision - but the news feed said something like “health care law overturned.” It gave me an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I closed the browser.

As it turns out, Fox News and CNN, also reported in error that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional. I’m glad that the networks were all wrong. That’s pretty bad reporting.

I know I’ve discussed what’s become known as Obamacare a little, and I’m going to try to continue in that same spirit. I’ll talk about it a little. I don’t want to harp on it, or rub it in any Republican noses too much. Maybe a little bit- but restraint is probably good for today.

I’ve followed the travails of the Affordable Healthcare Act very closely, and became interested in the law when it was introduced in Congress, shortly after President Obama was elected.

I will admit that when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to work with the public and private sector in crafting a new health care law 20 years ago, I snickered and criticized her and her effort.

Two things happened in the subsequent years that made me change my mind.

The first significant event was living and studying in England for a few years. I was sick a few times, and had to see a doctor. I also hurt myself in some physically demanding classes. I had to go to hospital after a dance class more than once, and let’s just say I was neither graceful nor destined to be a ballerina. I’m laughing so hard right now. C’est la vie!

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK is really quite remarkable. While you hear American politicians mischaracterize how the system works, and you hear some call it socialized medicine, in an attempt to cast it in an unfavorable light, the system works.

There was a time when the NHS had staff shortages, and waiting lists for surgery, particularly when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. Tony Blair’s Labor government really transformed the National Health Service into what it is today.

I never had to wait more than a few minutes to see my Doctor. You were given an ample amount of time to speak with the GP, and they didn’t have their nose buried in a file the entire time you were speaking with them. They weren’t looking at their watch or trying to get you out and another patient in. It was remarkably refreshing and unsettling for a Yank, because it was so different from what I was accustomed to.

You had a thorough examination, and when you were finished with the doctor you left the office and went home. No one asked you for money, a check, a credit card, or for your billing address. It was fucking fantastic.

Granted, Brits have a Value Added Tax and other revenue schemes to pay for the NHS.

Considering the money and the technology and innovation we have here in the United States, it’s a travesty that our system of delivering medical care has come down to the haves and have nots, and that's exactly what the Affordable Healthcare Act addresses.

President Barack Obama speaks on the telephone in the Oval Office.
President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

When you think of the inefficiencies in our system, and the lack of standardized procedures to make an appointment, billing, records management, insurance, and every other little thing, it’s really preposterous. It’s a miracle we ever get to see a Doctor at all.

We are the only technologically advanced country in the world that has such an inefficient, insanely expensive, healthcare delivery system. Insurance companies dictate what care we receive, instead of the educated Doctors responsible for our care. Does that make any sense whatsoever?

I could go on and on about the NHS in the UK, but I will spare you. Their system works, they get good care, and don’t believe what politicians have to tell you about European healthcare.

The second event that affected my view of our healthcare system, was getting sick and having to actually use it. No one is ever prepared for a catastrophic illness. In retrospect, there were little signs that I should have noticed. There was a tumor in my lymph nodes the size of a walnut, just under my jaw line. I looked at it every day when I shaved, and yet I didn’t see it. By the time I realized something was wrong, there were multiple tumors in my lymph nodes.

I know that the lesson learned is to know your body, look at yourself in the mirror, and give yourself a self examination, and see your doctor regularly, though I didn't do that then - but I do now.

I’ve seen so many doctors that I couldn’t even begin to count them, let alone know who they were. One thing I do know - is how much money I owe to nearly a dozen doctors. I have great medical coverage, but it doesn’t pay for everything no matter how good the coverage is. My illness started before the new law went into effect, so many of the provisions didn’t benefit me. I had already racked up thousands of dollars in bills I couldn’t pay.

We are the only industrialized nation in the world where you can lose your home, go bankrupt, and end up on the street, due to exorbitant medical costs. If you think it doesn’t happen, I can promise you that it does. That’s ridiculous and unfair. Medical care is a right not a privilege.

Because we have so many uninsured people, when they get sick or injured, the emergency room becomes their doctor’s office. It’s unfortunate, but it’s their only recourse. They need treatment and they are aware that they can’t be refused treatment. In spite of that it is estimated that 45,000 people die a year in the United States, due to not having health insurance.

That wastes time and money for the hospital and the medical staff. When the bill isn’t paid, the people who have insurance and the money to pay, end up paying for the uninsured. The hospitals are forced to raise their prices to pay for salaries, supplies, and overhead. As more people become uninsured, the problem gets bigger, and the prices for care goes up and up and up.

The Affordable Health Care Act is going to take some time to implement, and it will take time to see what needs to be improved, and what’s working out. This doesn’t happen overnight. We have to be patient. Plus there will be millions of people seeing a Doctor for the first time.

I think it’s important to remember these things, when you hear these shrill dumb members of Congress lie about the law. Republicans lie continually about the law, and remember they are lying to you every time they open their mouth, especially when they speak about repealing the healthcare law.

If the law is implemented properly, and Republicans cooperate with the President, this could boost our economy. It’s not going to fix it, but it will help. With more people insured, the healthcare industry is going to need qualified workers to support all these new patients. There will be cleaning jobs, nursing jobs, receptionist jobs, administrative jobs, insurance company jobs, and many other needs that the understaffed healthcare industry will require.

You are going to constantly be hearing GOP politicians say that they will repeal the law, it’s a bad law, the Supreme Court is wrong, and all of that bullshit. When you listen to them tell the reporter or news anchor why the law is bad, wait for them to say what they will do to replace the law. What is their alternative measure?

You’ll be waiting a long time, because they don’t have an alternative. If 50 million Americans will have some sort of health insurance coverage through Obamacare, when you hear the politicians say “repeal the law,” they are saying tough luck to the 50 million people who will get coverage for the first time. That creates a vicious cycle and makes the problem far worse. If it gets worse, that will escalate the cost of insurance and health care even more. It will be disastrous for our economy and public health.

Call these politicians on their bluff, because they are full of shit. Ask what their plan is, and how they would cover 50 million people immediately.

It’s about time we had comprehensive health care for everyone. Bravo and hallelujah to that.

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