Shitty Obamacare

In 2011 my daughters and I went to Spain for a week. During that visit, my older daughter fell down some stairs, severely cut her head, and had to ride in an ambulance to the emergency room. She was stitched up and given all her care products and prescriptions by the doctor at the hospital. As a non European citizen, the visit cost us $64 American dollars. For everything. For the ambulance ride, the visit, the stitching, the care products and drugs. A similar visit in the US would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $6000, if not more. And since the ACA went into effect, it’s only gotten worse.

The ACA is not a boon to Americans. It’s not. Do you know that it’s virtually impossible to get a plan on low or moderate income that doesn’t have a multi-thousand dollar deductible? Somehow, in over 2000 pages as a law, someone didn’t think to tell insurers to cap deductibles. It’s insane. Pretend to be an average American. Go to the “marketplace.” Look at the options there. You’ll see that all the plans have insane deductibles. The only plans that don’t are too high priced for people in lower income brackets. It’s a joke.

The ACA isn’t a boon. It’s a legislative nightmare. It’s a paperwork nightmare. It’s raised costs, not lowered them. Emergency plans available before the ACA that covered essentially the same thing were cheaper than the plans under the ACA. The ACA operating in reality is anything but an example of success unless you’re an insurance company executive. What would be a real success would be getting rid of the for-profit middle man in healthcare. Then when someone needs to go the doctor, it would cost what it should instead of lining the pockets of everyone along the way while the person in need of care suffers financially in addition to suffering with their health.

What the ACA has done is to take public dollars and use them for privatized profit. People whose health insurance is “subsidized” get their insane premiums paid for by tax dollars. So greedy ass insurance company charges $740 a month for their crappy plan (that’s $8880 a year!) and the government pays part of that premium out of tax dollars. The shitty insurance company theoretically can’t profit more than a certain percentage, but that doesn’t mean they can’t pay their executives more and have less in “profit.” It’s all a big game, but it works out the same: public tax dollars paying a greedy middle man to skim profit off before providing subpar healthcare. And people are worried about socialized medicine because they don’t want to pay higher taxes? The logic escapes me. Really the problem is that the greedy bastards who lobby for the insurance companies have all the “lawmakers” in their pockets. It’s a giant, shambling scam.

We never asked for our daughter’s insurance company to reimburse the $64 spent in Spain the day she was injured. We paid for it because we could because that kind of healthcare is truly affordable. The Affordable Care Act? Not so much.

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I’m the Poster Child for Public Healthcare

I was published on Huffington Post last week.  To see the original story, click here.  If you like it, please share on Facebook or twitter, and feel free to buzz me up.

I’m the Poster Child for Public Healthcare
by Lara M. Gardner

I am a poster child for public health. Why do I say this? Because I live in a state where there is a low-income, public healthcare option. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was able to utilize this option for my treatment. It worked, and it worked extremely well.

Uninsured and unemployed after job-hunting for over a year in late 2006, I discovered a lump in my breast. The lump turned out to be benign, but the mammogram of that lump showed early breast cancer. The nurse-practitioner who ordered the mammogram knew about a federal program for treatment of breast and cervical cancers in low-income women. I applied for the program and was accepted for my mammogram and subsequent biopsy. Once the biopsy showed that I indeed had cancer, the Oregon Health Plan kicked in, along with the federal program, to treat my cancer.

The care I received was phenomenal. I was able to choose my doctors. My surgeon and oncologists were all brilliant, amazing physicians. All of the staff in every facility treated me with kindness and respect. Throughout the process I was a partner in my care, everyone explaining procedures at a level commensurate with my education and understanding. Never once was I made to feel like a second-class citizen because of my public health status. I completed radiation treatments and, because I take an estrogen-blocking drug, have continued on the public-health program.

As part of my care, I was required to pay $3 for doctor visits. I had two surgeries for a biopsy and lumpectomy, a needle biopsy, radiation, multiple mammograms, and attended countless doctor appointments with various practitioners. The only bills I ever received were for the $3 fees. Not once did I suffer through multiple bills, trying to sort out which my insurance company had paid, who had been billed, who was owed what. I was spared all of this thanks to public healthcare.

Since the healthcare debate has come to the fore over the last year, I have read and heard story after story of women with cancers like mine who were “covered” by private health insurance. Over and over, I have heard of the trauma and stress these women experienced at the hands of their insurance companies at the same time they were dealing with the pain, fear, and exhaustion of their illness. Each time I heard these stories, I felt grateful that I was covered by a public health plan.

Part of the health care debate has included the old canards about the Canadian and British health systems. “You can’t choose your doctor.” “You have to wait for months to get treated.” These claims have been widely discredited, and I saw nothing in my experience with American public healthcare that was lacking. I chose all of my doctors. I was served immediately.

I sincerely hope our legislators can get their act together and create a health plan that provides health care for every American so all of us can experience true and complete care, as I did. It can work. It does work. We all deserve nothing less.