“You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter and medical attention. Anything else that you get is a privilege. ”
~ Alcatraz: Inmate Regulations, 1956 (emphasis mine)
Today, the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. (Yes, Rand Paul, that does mean that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional.) While I am happy that I will theoretically get to have health insurance in 2014, I’m aprehensive.
I really wanted Obama and Congress to essentially drop the age limit from Medicare. I wanted them to give all of us the Senate health plan. Speaking as someone who paid more, percentage-wise, in taxes than Mitt Romney, I want those taxes to fund universal health coverage.
I have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. It’s a neuropathic pain syndrome. It’s on the “Deny” list for every insurance company I called – Aetna, United Health Care, HealthNet, CIGNA, Blue Cross, and probably some others. You know what heinous sin I committed to get CRPS? I stepped out of my car. In a parking lot, I stepped on a patch of ice, and twisted my knee, causing permanent nerve damage. At the time, I was about 110 and I worked out five days a week. I did aerobics, kickboxing, treadmill, and sometimes a little bit of weight training. I watched what I ate and drank mostly water. I had no control over what happened to my body that day.
Jackson was apparently born with seasonal allergies. They’re fairly serious, though he’s never had asthma. He takes a very expensive allergy medication 10 months out of the year. Because it’s so expensive, our wonderful pediatrician gives us free samples. One month’s worth is $115. Because of his allergies, CIGNA and HealthNet both rated Jackson up. For example, HealthNet’s basic plan is $70 per month. They rated Jackson up, increasing the cost of the plan to $110.60 per month. Do you think my son did something in his short life to bring on his allergies? No. He had no control over them.
We are increasingly discovering that individuals don’t actually have that much control over their own long-term health. Genetics play more of a role than we ever knew. Environment is another huge factor – we’re poisoning ourselves. We’re finding out that chemicals we thought were benign, aren’t. (But that’s another post.) One in three women and one in two men will get cancer, thanks in large part to toxic chemicals and pollution.
Health care isn’t optional. We need it to survive. But insurance companies can capriciously tell us what we’re allowed to have and, more often, what we’re not allowed to have. They deny, deny, deny.
My hope is that the Affordable Care Act will open the door to universal health care and a day when health insurance companies no longer exist. I imagine it will be far in the future, possibly after I’ve died at age 60 from slipping on a tile floor in my bathroom and hitting my head while getting ready to go to the oncologist for my skin cancer treatment. But hopefully, my grandchildren will benefit from continuous health coverage from birth to a late, late death.
A girl can dream, can’t she?
After all of this, I realize that I never said why I’m apprehensive. I’m concerned about who decides what “affordable” means. I fear the definition will ultimately be handed down by the insurance companies. I fear that they will still get to decide who lives and dies.