There was a great article in the Tribune Perspective section on Friday, March 14 by Lizzy Smith. It's the first time I have seen a sensible headline about Obamacare. The headline was Fix Obamacare, don't repeal it.
Lizzy is a blogger and freelancer who writes at lizzysmilez.blogspot.com Her article told her story from a perspective that is often overlooked in the whole big debate. One size does NOT fit all and there are so many reasons why a healthcare program was desperately needed in this country. Is it perfect? Of course not! But it's a step in the right direction. Let's fix what we discover doesn't work and make it better for everyone. That being said, here's the story of health care in my family.
My husband and I owned a furniture store for 20 years. Because we needed health care, along with about half of our employees, we found a group plan that would cover all of us. At one time, we paid over $55,000 per year to cover 6 employees. That covered a total of 13 people when you considered the family members included in the coverage. This was a HUGE portion of our sales every year, and deeply cut into our profits. However, we needed the insurance and it was the right thing to do to cover the other employees who also needed insurance.
When it was time to retire, we thought we could get COBRA coverage for the next 9-18 months. To our surprise, COBRA does not continue coverage if a business is closing, which our was, so we began the hunt for insurance coverage.
At the time, my husband was fighting a battle with chronic Lyme Disease. A tick bite, over 20 years ago, had ravaged his body, producing a variety of debilitating symptoms that worsened over time. When we finally discovered the correct diagnosis, after MANY incorrect ones, he started oral antibiotics and within a few weeks was a changed man. He had a new lease on life. I truly believe that he would be dead by now if we had not found a wonderful doctor in Northern Wisconsin who understood Lyme Disease and had developed sensible protocols for treating it. Or as the doctor has said, "He would wish he was dead." While he is much improved, he will never be symptom free. Lyme Disease just did too much damage.
But with his pre-existing condition, Tim was basically uninsurable. I found coverage at a relatively affordable price, but the only place he could get coverage, was through a state program for the uninsurable. Of course, that cost double what my insurance cost.
Fast forward to Obamacare. There is now coverage available for Tim, and everyone else with a pre-existing condition, (which is a LOT of people), at half the cost of his previous coverage through the state. We've had better coverage, but at least we had a choice of how much to pay and how much coverage we needed. And for us, it is much cheaper.
I know that not everyone has found cheaper coverage, or smaller deductibles, but everyone should be able to get coverage in some form. We can visit doctors for emergencies, we can visit doctors for routine checkups. There are affordable options for those at all income levels. I know it's not perfect, but to repeal the law (which I really don't think will happen), will just make more disruption, more hardship, and more turmoil than could be imagined.
There are many people in the same boat as we are. I know you are out there. Our needs are various. Those who have coverage from Medicare, employers, or retirement pension plans, or have never had to experience the sinking realization that you are ill and can't afford coverage, can't understand how greatful some of us are to have coverage that we can actually afford. There may be more of us out there than you realize.
So don't be so quick to dump Obamacare. We can hope our elected officials can work on fixing it instead of engaging in fruitless battles and refusing to compromise. In the wealthiest country on earth, no one should be without adequate health care.
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