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Editorial: A pragmatic look at Obamacare

It's here, get over it.
The New York Post

The Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare, as imperfect as it is, is by no means a sinister, socialist, communist plot to end the world laid down by the worst “socialist” ever known to man; Barack Obama. Back when conservatives were normal people, one of them named Bob Dole in the 1990s put forth a conservation alternative to President Clinton’s bill for universal healthcare for all Americans. Although Dole’s bill was shot down as well, do you know who stole that idea and implemented it in Massachusetts when he was Governor? Mr. Mitt Romney. It was wildly successful and as well his crowning achievement.

People for years have been understandably tired of their tax dollars floating the medical bills for those who don’t have health insurance for whatever reason. Isn’t fair is it? (Yeah that’s your queue to get fired up, over-emotional, and red in the face). The whole idea was that if people weren’t going to get their own health coverage to float their own bills, then someone had to step in and require them to-you know like the rest of modern industrialized nations do. How Republican is that? Republicans pride themselves on being self-reliant. So for those lazy “takers” that don’t want to be self-reliant, the party is over. Automobile insurance is required if you own a car. Renter’s insurance is required to rent an apartment. So let’s get this straight-people have no concerns or issues with insuring their homes, but when it comes to insuring their own bodies they become the army from “300” ready to spill blood on the battlefield. That makes about as much sense as buying a hooker dinner.

Quite simply, it just isn’t the communist conspiracy that Fox News wants you to think. However you have to hand it them, Fox has spun the propaganda wheel on this issue better than Goebbels did with anti-communist and anti-Semitic propaganda in Nazi Germany. (Because they are obsessed with the 1950s and 1980s, Conservative America has been trying for years to bring back Cold War politics for years now and this situation really helps their cause) The Obama Administration did the worst job it could possibly have done explaining Obamacare and launching a simple website. Fox News and the Republican Party saw that mistake and exploited it so perfectly that every day normal people in America are so angry and incensed over health care they could kill someone. Slow your roll, Lee Harvey-everything is going to be OK. You’re being lied to and emotionally manipulated by the media on a massive scale to do what? To keep you watching those ads they play every few minutes. They want you to go on social media and complain about so your PC can track you statements through cookies and give you pop-up ads of the same crap they are advertising on those “newscasts.” And it’s working beautifully. Hard-core conservatives in the United States are ready to overthrow the government over this nonsense. It’s like when you were 8-years-old and ran away because your mom made you eat your vegetables.

Since we are all fired up and waving our flags now while locked and loaded, let’s actually take a look at what this historic piece of American legislation does for better or worse-because honestly I don’t think many people know. There are a lot of people that can’t take responsibility for their own lives and problems and just want to be angry at Obama because it’s easier to blame anyone but yourself for the problems you face. “I didn’t get a raise this year! Obama!” “My wife got the flu! Obama!” “There is a gay man in my town! Obama!” I just had the greatest idea for a modern-day “See n’ Say.”

For years, we as a nation have been facing the issue of having roughly 60 million people with no health insurance (that’s under half). Around 160 million people do actually have private insurance, mostly through their employers. If you are one of those people, Obamacare really only matters at all if the plan your employer gave you, quite frankly, sucked. Under this law, insurers actually have to cover common sense health issues that in the past they would not cover or find an unethical loophole to get out of covering such as prescriptions, child birth, and mental health. It also blocks any of those standard “screw you” charges we have all seen in health care all of our lives such as extra charges for simple co-pays, checkups, cancer screenings, and women’s issues. If children were out in front of their house selling $200 cups of lemonade, wouldn’t you expect their parents to tell them that maybe they should “come back down to Earth” on their prices? Most importantly however, is the fact that this law forbids an insurance company from dropping you if you get sick.

Although they are getting a heap of more customers due to this law, insurance companies hate it because mom and dad have come outside and told them they can’t charge $200 for a cup of lemonade. So here’s what they did. All of the existing policies people had before the Obamacare law went into effect that weren’t compliant with the law, such as policies that allowed them to drop you if you got sick, they just cancelled rather than adjusting the policies to make them complaint with the common sense ethics of Obamacare. Due to this, we saw all over the news in late 2013 how this new law is “taking away health care.” The law didn’t do that, the insurance companies did and spun the nonsense perfectly in the media to get people all fired up. It’s like running over a dog with your car then getting out of the car and blaming other people around for distracting you. So there ended up being a lot of Americans having to get whole new policies for themselves. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. They now have policies that actually help them. It may cost a little more than what they had, but the old saying is true-you get what you pay for. You may have been paying $25 a month for a policy that wouldn’t do you any good if you got shot in the head. Your insurance company knew that and that’s why the policy was cancelled. You may end up paying $100 a month, but at least you are not throwing your money away like you were in the past.

We are one of (maybe the only) country where employers provide health insurance for employees, which is a bit odd. It does however explain why employees’ wages are a bit lower than we would all like. As part of this law taking effect in 2015, we will all be able to see on our pay stubs exactly how much our employers are kicking in for our health insurance. Good health coverage isn’t particularly cheap, and sometimes it’s hard to see, but our employers actually sink a lot of money into their health insurance programs. Being able to see this information may give us all a little better perspective. Most people don’t think of their employer-subsidized insurance as part of their salaries, but they really should.

What about the elderly? Those at the poverty line? The physically or mentally disabled? Medicare, you know that evil Socialist program that helps the elderly, doesn’t see any change in this law. Well one change, easier access to prescription drugs. Medicaid is where big changes are happening to the chagrin of those people with the attitude of “screw the poor.” A great majority of families making less than $31K per year have the opportunity to receive Medicaid benefits. The poverty line in America is astounding. This isn’t a small chunk of people. Remember when I said America had around 60 million uninsured people? Roughly 17 million of that 60 million fall under this umbrella.
So after all of the employer-subsidized health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid, that leaves about 20% of that 60 million that have to go out to the “exchanges” (Obamacare websites) to shop for an insurance plan that best suits their needs. From people I’ve talked to that have used it, there have been some good things out there once the website actually worked.

So where does the rest of the money come from to pay for all of this? Well who has been ripping us off for decades? Hospitals that set ridiculous prices, medical device makers who charge hospitals crazy amounts for 8000 % markups for devices, therefore forcing the hospital to pass those costs on to the customers compounding the problem. Let’s also not forget health insurers themselves. All of those entities face new taxes. Also seeing new taxes are extremely rich people. Boy are they angry! I look at it like this; America is the best place on Earth to become rich. If you’re rich, it’s partly because of America-so it’s OK to give back a little to help the country that allowed you to get where you are. Believe you me, any poor person on Medicaid would gladly trade spots with you in economic class if you didn’t want to pay the taxes. Quite simply, nobody feels sorry for rich people except other rich people. And unfortunately, these people have enough money to buy politicians in Washington, DC to vote in ways that serves their best interest so they can keep as much money in their pockets as possible (as if they were going to run out). What a terrible investment.

So what’s the penalty (or tax) we hear about for refusing to buy health insurance and how does that work? It’s not that complicated. Here it is in layman’s terms. If you are one of those people who just outright refuse to insure themselves, the total fine is going to be around $100. However that fine will increase as years pass if one continues to not get health insurance. In many states, that is about the cost of the policy anyway, so you may as well get the policy. What do you have to lose? That’s right, your dignity, because….well, “Obama!” How is this legal? The Supreme Court heard the case and found that there were no issues with the legality of this because it is a tax, not a bill, and the government can pretty much tax anything they want to tax. (If you want to get angry about taxes, read the fine print the next time you buy an airline ticket) Here is the breakdown of the tax: in 2014, the tax is $95 per adult in an uninsured household, increasing the $325 in 2015, then $695 in 2016, so-on based on consumer inflation. The tax is half of those amounts for children. However depending on which is greater, the uninsured household pays 1% of their income in 2014, 2% in 2015, and 2.5% in 2016 in lieu of the flat per-person tax. If the insurance premiums are at least equal to at least 8% of your income, then you could qualify for a tax exemption based on that economic hardship.

So what are people so worked up and angry about? As with other things in America, this isn’t even an issue. The angriest people, the extremely rich people and despite the illogical and nonsense ideologies for their economic status, very poor and poverty-stricken conservatives, are angry because people with money invest in things like media outlets so they can control the message and tell you to be angry about it. And it works wonderfully. There are people reading this editorial that would love nothing more than to punch me in the face. But I counter with this; look how emotional you are and worked up about this? You’re behaving like the lab rats the media want you to be. They’ve won.
The Affordable Care Act has been compared to the Fugitive Slave Act by some in Conservative America. Wow. The Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 allowed slave owners to come to New Hampshire and seize African Americans and use the federal courts to take them back to slave states. Soooo, OK. Those two things have about as much in common as cars and septic tanks do. Aside from that, the opposition of this law are worried that it costs too much and it will harm the quality of their doctor’s care. The opposition contends that the system we had worked just fine. (Well, it did if you were rich. Worked perfectly) This stuff isn’t based on rational thought, but based on political theater and rhetoric. A writer for the Brookings Institution had a great thought on this issue: “It’s true most Americans don’t like being forced to buy health insurance, though paradoxically they also hate excluding people who are already sick from buying insurance.”

As much as a step in the right direction legislation like this is, nothing is perfect. There will be problems that will need to be learned from and corrected in this process as it continues. A program of this magnitude will be incredibly difficult to manage because America is such a large nation. Much harder than a small country like Switzerland, who has a health insurance program much like this in place already. And guess what, they are doing just fine. I’ve been there, and people aren’t dying of disease in the streets. So what if it’s difficult? When has America ever turned away from something just because it was difficult? Abolishing slavery was difficult, but that seemed to work out well for everyone. (Except maybe those who are still angry about that too)

Most people by nature do not like change. They like talking about change, but not ever following through with anything. Change is scary sometimes. But if you never step out of your comfort zone, how will you ever learn and grow? The simple answer is you won’t. You’ll become more and more set in your ways and ignorant to any outside idea or thought that doesn’t align with the reality set in your own mind, be it logical or not. And worst of all, you will have children and pass that same attitude on to them. If we become a society that refuses to think outside of the box, we are doing nothing more than hampering the progression of humanity.