I’m no financial expert. But I’m one heck of a well-informed consumer. And as a former healthcare lobbyist and someone who worked several jobs serving poor, disabled, immigrant, and underclass populations, I also know a lot about the many, many ways we deliver medical care to people who can’t afford to pay for it.
The insurance marketplace was no paradise before President Obama meddled in it. Our system was hardly perfect. But contrary to the hateful and ignorant claims of poverty pimp journalists, leftist pundits, all of Europe, pretty much everyone I went to college with, and everyone I met in graduate school, poor people were not deprived of access to medical care before Obamacare, nor will they be if congressional Republicans ever manage to spontaneously grow a spine and repeal it.
In fact, before Obamacare, the vast majority of people who chose to live off taxpayers rather than pay their own bills had better access to better healthcare than financially strapped people who at least tried to pay their own bills. If leftists ever bothered to claw through the cocoon of sanctimonious dribble excreted by American correspondents for the Guardian and other anti-American, Euro-trash Marxist poverty porn, they would quickly learn, as I did, that the professional dependency classes had healthcare that was as good as that of middle-class people with insurance who actually paid for that insurance with, you know, jobs.
The same is true now. And the same will continue to be true if and when Obamacare is repealed, because these people may not be willing to work for a living but they sure are willing to work like hell to make sure their benefits don’t go away – and they have an army of overeducated idiots and paid-off politicians to ensure that they’re right.
After about five minutes on the job, many a social worker has had the epiphany that the people they’re “serving” are knowingly, and expertly, playing the system, no matter how intellectually ineffective they may be in other ways. It’s interesting (in the way slow-motion videos of car accidents are interesting) to watch said social workers decide whether to stop lying about the realities of the dependency classes and go earn a living elsewhere or keep lying in order to keep their jobs in order to pay off the $50,000 in student loans they racked up for that Master of Social Work degree.
But what, one might ask, about the effect of repealing Obamacare on people with chronic illnesses or disabilities or cancer? Poor people – working and not – with chronic or severe illnesses were and are and will continue to be served by the disability system. And this system would work far better for the genuinely disabled and genuinely chronically ill if we would do just one thing: get the liars and slackers out of it, particularly those with vague psychological diagnoses like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or depression or “the bipolar” who are flooding the disability courts and disability rolls with the support of Democratic politicians and self-serving psychiatrists. See here and here for some compelling arguments by medical practitioners about the relatively recent and widespread misuse of disability and SSI.
In fact, if you can find it, I recommend reading widely in the now-defunct blog called The Last Psychiatrist: the blog’s crabby, contrary anonymous author has a must-read article called “The Terrible, Awful Truth About Supplemental Security Income” that for the time being is available here. This post says things about disability coverage that nobody could survive saying in Congress, but that ought to be said every single day, but won’t ever be said there, not even once. (Editor’s note: To preserve the article for posterity, Bombthrowers is making a PDF file of the article available here.)
Obamacare was supposed to be an especially big help for the people who do have jobs but don’t earn much and can’t afford health insurance but don’t want to game the system like all the welfare frauds out there. Unfortunately, once it was implemented, Obamacare turned out to be nothing more than another game on the system, and like other games on the system, the benefits immediately gravitated directly to the welfare frauds and to other people such as graduate students and hipsters who want to work as part-time yoga instructors while living in Brooklyn and writing novels while their boring friends from college pick up extra hours at the widget factory to pay for their birth control.
And make no mistake about it: these type of people believe it is their God-given right to make us pay for their birth control, even though the birth control they think they should not be forced to pay for costs less than the price of one of the sustainably-sourced organic cold-drip lattes they need to stay awake through the incredibly draining intentionality of their days.
It was a pretty swift move, I have to admit, to market Obamacare in ways that would enable hipsters to imagine that their lives were actually like the lives of the underclass they try so hard to emulate. Thanks to Obamacare, or rather, efforts to repeal it, flâneurs with anthropology degrees from Oberlin can now wander around pretending they are being threatened with oppression – the gold ring of leftist authenticity – without having to engage in overly tedious transformations of their sexual identities or having babies and then engaging in tax fraud by refusing to get child support from the fathers.
Meanwhile, for the real working poor and working class – the aspirational, two-parent families earning more than $45,000 a year but not much more – Obamacare turned out to be so expensive that it is just another giant raspberry blown in their direction by politicians who, of course, exclude themselves from it. For the novel-writing barista who can conceal a good bit of her tip-based salary, or the aging graduate student taking time off from reading Foucault to protest the World Trade Organization, or the intentionally unmarried welfare mom whose household definitely includes the father of one of her children (who works under the table for all the goodies they want while the rest of us pay their cable bill), Obamacare is an unalloyed good thing. But nobody else can afford it, except people whose incomes enable them to stay away from the underclass or profit from their existence, plus the rich.
My husband and I are pretty typical examples of the millions of hard-working, middle-class people who have been hit the hardest by Obamacare. Before Obamacare, the health insurance we bought on the private market cost approximately $400 a month for the two of us. We had high deductibles – at least they seemed high then – and we paid out of pocket for virtually all of our healthcare. Being self-employed and relatively healthy, this seemed like a good plan – we had what amounted to catastrophic care insurance.
We also still paid (and pay) a great deal in taxes for other people’s healthcare. This point has been lost in the debate over healthcare, and it shouldn’t be: that 13.9 percent coming off the top of every penny we earn is money that pays for other people’s healthcare. I refuse to stoop to the verbal idiocy that dictates that Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare withholdings are not taxes: they are taxes. And so, on top of taking care of ourselves by buying private health insurance and shouldering the cost of medical expenses not covered by our insurance, we were then, are now, and will continue to be paying for everyone on those programs.
Only, now, a mere three years after the implementation of Obamacare, the cheapest insurance we can find is more than $1,200 a month for the two of us, and somehow, it has higher deductibles than the $400 a month catastrophic care insurance we used to buy. Every year since 2014, the insurance available to us has also phased out more of the few items that were previously covered, and the physician lists have shrunk. So now, if one of us becomes ill, we will have to pay out a minimum of $20,800 in premiums and deductibles before the insurance pays for anything. If both of us were to suffer an accident or become ill, our out-of-pocket expenses would rise to $27,200. Per year. After paying 13.9 percent in taxes for other people’s health care.
You don’t need to be Paul Krugman stumbling back from the stables at one of his mansions after currycombing the show ponies while mulling over how to look less prosperous zipping past the laid-off copy editors in the parking garage under the New York Times skyscraper to realize this is, in a word, unsustainable.
And every year since Obamacare went into effect, the plan we chose was canceled, and we had to switch to another company with different doctors and hospitals, and fewer of them. It almost goes without saying that I now have to pay out of pocket for the doctor I’ve had for 20+ years, and if I become ill, or even just see him for an annual physical and other needs, anything I do spend seeing him doesn’t apply to my deductible.
Why bother even complaining anymore that the primary promise emanating from Obama’s lips was the greatest legislative lie of the 21st century?
As my husband and I wade into middle age (we’re 51), I certainly expected our health insurance rates to rise. But they have exploded more than 300 percent in three years, and our out-of-pocket costs connected to our plan are unaffordable to us. We are essentially uninsured even though we still get up in the morning and go to work to pay for our healthcare and for all the other people’s healthcare that we were already paying for before Obamacare took even more of our money in a tax that everyone pretends isn’t a tax, just like they pretend Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security aren’t taxes.
Thank you, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Every time I can’t afford to pay to see a doctor, or my husband decides to put off medical care he needs, even though we’re literally paying tens of thousands of dollars to subsidize other people’s medical care including your medical care, I am going to remember your preening, late-night performance killing efforts to fix this ugly mess. (Editor’s note: Here is McCain’s official statement after the vote.)
And you can sneer and hop on a jet and bask in the accolades of welfare frauds and yoga instructors and anthropology grad students and tattooed, poetry-writing professional activists and Hollywood morons and the DNC for your “courageous” stand against starting to fix this mess.
For a short while, anyway.