Friday, September 27, 2013

On Health Insurance and Conservative Politics.

I've been a political conservative since the moment I told my mom I thought it was dumb to pay taxes to the government at the age of 7. Admittedly my worldview was quite small at that age. My moms only response to me was "Honey, you'd make a good Republican". And believe me, I still am a Republican today but have a much more well-rounded reason other than not liking taxes :).

Being conservative in the Bay Area means I stick out like a sore thumb amongst my peers, but hey, I've dealt with it just fine. Being a Christian in the Bay Area means I stick out like another big sore thumb against our entire society, so I'm pretty much set up for disaster everywhere I go. But the beauty of this country is the freedom we have, the freedom to speak and think as we want without fear of government oppression is something we Americans take for granted. That's a blog post for another day.

Here's how my people feel about ObamaCare - not like you didn't know this already. 
A big looming topic myself and many in this country today are facing is health care. One year ago my unmarried, under 26 self was safely taken care of my parents health care plan -- and I could have cared less about the health care debate because it had no impact on me personally. I stayed safely to my conservative side of the debate proclaiming Obama care was a recipe for disaster and more government control, because thats what I was "supposed" to think as a conservative. Today I see things a little differently.

When Seth and I got married and moved to Gilroy, I got my first big-girl job with a large corporation that provided health insurance to it's employees. YAHOO! Why not take advantage of that? We both decided to drop our parents insurance, and sign up with this new fancy one from work. Me being completely uneducated about how to find the right plan picked the highest deductible with the lowest monthly cost, we were both healthy and had no reason to think anything catastrophic medically would happen for a while.

Fast forward to March 2013. I had been waiting for months for my substitute teaching license to be approved by the state -- and that opportunity finally came. After a stressful 5 months at my current job, I decided to pursue part time teaching while staying on 2 days a week.  After making the decision to go part-time at my other job, I knew we both would be dropped from that insurance policy because I was going under the 32 hour/week limit. No worries though, we were still healthy and had some time to shop around for private insurance policies that couldn't be that expensive, right?

March 21, 2013: I went part-time.
March 27, 2013: We found out we were pregnant.
March 28, 2013: I spent 3 hours in the ER because of said pregnancy -- and ended up 6 months later with a $10,000 bill. (That is a blog post for another day)
April 1, 2013: My insurance was gone. 

See the big problems here? That high deductible policy meant that we were stuck with a HUGE portion left to pay for that ER visit. An ER that was not "in network" with my insurance so therefore it triples the cost of my care. Additionally, here I am pregnant with no insurance policy in sight. And who in their right might is going to give new insurance to a pregnant lady?

I quickly consulted my mom who found out I was able to get back on her insurance because I was still under the age of 26. Phew. That gigantic bullet had been dodged. Signing up Seth for insurance should be easy, because he's still healthy and obviously not the pregnant one. WRONG. Seth was denied health insurance because I was pregnant. No, I was not trying to sign up with the same insurance with him....no, I was not planning on signing up the baby after he was born on Seth's insurance. Seth was denied because of me. A medical situation that he was not physically connected to. Yes of course connected by me being his wife and him being 50% of the blame in the pregnancy...but you get what I'm saying.

We have the help of an awesome insurance agent who scoured the disclaimers and small print to see how we could get around this mysterious rule against husbands who have pregnant wives. We got lucky with Kaiser -- the wording of the particular question about spousal pregnancy provided a loophole for us and we are grateful. While Seth has not had to use his insurance yet, the protection alone makes us able to sleep at night.

As our shocking pregnancy set in, we started asking the basic questions about how we would afford everything and what the insurance would cover. I found out that the baby would only be covered for 30 days after he was born on my moms insurance, and we would once again be searching for coverage while simultaneously trying to figure out this new parenting gig. That sounds like fun.

Is it though? Should we see if this works before we attempt to bar it from having the chance to work?
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I have spent the last few months safely protected by my mom's insurance, but also looming above my head is what we will do when this baby is born. State medicaid & state funded baby care is available, I think, but is my perfect little baby going to get sub-par care because he has state funded insurance? The industry that I work in has given me a lot of insight into what state medicaid & medicare buys you and it isn't much. The county hospitals are frequently crowded with long lines, full waiting rooms, and sick, crying babies.

Here I am puzzled by a few things.
Why can I stay on my moms policy, and not the baby?

Why is state funded insurance the only option financially for us? Further, is it even an option or are we going to be barred from getting it because we make too much money?

Where did we get the idea that our jobs should be the one providing health care? Most countries don't work that way.

Why does health care cost SO much money? Remember that $10,000 bill? We are stuck with $2,000 and will be paying it off for the next 3 years. Can I tell you what they did? They sat me in a room, took my blood, did a quick ultra sound and told me to go see my regular doctor.

Why aren't health insurance companies and health care corporations called out for their behavior? Why are they allowed to deny my husband because of my pregnancy, or a woman for a non-cancerous mole on her back, or a young man that has athletic induced asthma? People are denied for things that are extremely simple to take care of -- or for things that have nothing to do with their physical condition.

The thing about this health care debate that has me most frustrated is that healthcare should have NOTHING to do with politics. I think the reason the politicians, particularly Obama, are stepping in is because the insurance companies are gigantic, greedy corporations who deny and refuse coverage for ridiculous reasons and people are left out in the cold. Obama is stepping in because the people he is paid to protect aren't getting adequately cared for.

 State Medicaid programs are not an answer to the problem. They provide only the basic, and sometimes not even the basic medical needs for people. They often times don't give people a primary care physician who can provide preventive care to possibly avoid the expensive procedures that they will refuse to pay for anyways.

I'm fairly certain that Obama's intentions in creating ObamaCare were not to screw us over fiscally. Or to create sub-standard care. Or to swell the deficits. Or to make himself look awesome. Obama wouldn't need to step in if we were able to figure out a system where people could get high quality, affordable health care without having to have a fancy corporate job to supply it. Because lets face it, many small business workers or just plain old blue collar workers can't get health insurance from their jobs, because their jobs just don't supply them. That does not make them lazy people who don't work and therefore are trying to feed from the system -- it makes them normal humans living in America trying to make a life for themselves.

If conservatives stopped putting the uninsured in a box labeled: lazy, unemployed, freeloaders and instead labeled them: your mother, your sister, your friend, your pizza guy, your paper boy -- we might begin to level the playing field and see that this is not an issue of what side you are on, or how much money you make, or what religion you are, or if you fly an elephant or donkey flag on voting day.

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I learned recently that ObamaCare is coming to California on January 1, 2014. Our baby boy is due November 30, 2013. That means that 30 days after he is born he will be dropped from my mom's coverage -- and on that same day he is dropped he could get picked up by ObamaCare.

Obama gave himself quite the mountain to climb when he chose to tackle our health care problem. The system he has created isn't perfect, but there is no perfect solution to the gigantic problem. I'm thankful that he is trying to tackle it, and I'm hopeful that what comes out of it in the next couple years is more accessible coverage for everyone.

 My heart has been softened by my clients at work stuck with bad insurance and even more by my little baby growing inside me who I want the absolute best care for. I'm going to make an effort to stop demonizing Obama for the decisions he makes regarding his health care plan -- and see that he is trying to create a solution to a gigantic problem that no one else is willing to solve.
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So there you have it. A very long rant on where I'm at as a political conservative in this mess we call Obamacare. I am not claiming to have it all figured out. Heck, I don't even know everything ObamaCare has to offer or not offer because I haven't read much of the specifics. What I do know is that we could all benefit from bridging the gap between the two poles of democrats and conservatives and working together to tackle an issue that will continue to grow before it disappears.

2 comments:

  1. I love this. No plan is perfect, but it's better to try something than nothing. I hope this gets figured out for you, Seth and the little guy.

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  2. you are a republican in the bay area?? you are a very very brave woman!! i am a conservative too, worked for a Member of Congress for 7 years, i have lots of thought on Obamacare but that is for another time :-)

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