We’ve had a dicey month here in the Lewis household, because for the first time we’ve had to face some serious medical issues.
For the 23 years of our marriage, my husband, Don, and I have been blessed with good health. Oh sure, we’ve had the occasional issue, but on the whole we’ve been lucky.
All that changed in early April when my husband got a simple urinary tract infection, which led to more and more serious problems. Organs began shutting down or malfunctioning – intestines, bladder, prostate – until it culminated in late April with hospitalization due to acute kidney failure. The culprit, it turns out, was a massively enlarged prostate which required an immediate catheter to drain his bladder. Thankfully he received superb care in the hospital and has no permanent kidney damage, though he must still catheter for a few more weeks.
Now let me go back in time about two years. Because we’re self-employed and fairly low-income, we struggled for many years to pay for high-deductible catastrophic health insurance. Because the deduction was so high, we literally never used it – all doctor visits were paid out of pocket. After 10 years of this nonsense – essentially pouring nearly a hundred thousand dollars down the drain – we were notified that our premiums were going to increase by 40 percent. We couldn’t afford it anymore.
So we dropped it. It was scary, launching into the world of the uninsured, but we had no choice. In this, we joined hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of other Americans who have been priced out of health insurance. We got Aflac coverage for cancer and accidents, but for everything else – nothing.
Therefore, when my husband was hospitalized, we girded our loins for a massive series of financial setbacks. So far we’ve paid every bill we’ve received, even if it meant putting some of the larger amounts on the credit card. I can’t even begin to describe how thrilled the hospital and other practitioners were to actually get PAID from an uninsured patient, or how eager they are to work with us to make sure future payment schedules are possible within our income.
We thank God there is no cancer; but because my husband is not responding to medication to shrink the prostate, he is scheduled for laser surgery in mid-June. We’re gearing up for the cost of this surgery and hope to have it paid off within a year.
Modern medicine is one of our present-day miracles, and I’m acutely aware that my husband would have died had he not received the prompt care he did. This is just a taste of what endless other people experience as they battle the frailties of the human body.
Now how will this all change in the next few years as Obamacare comes into effect?
In many respects we had it easy. My husband’s hospitalization and subsequent care was costly; but it was simple. He was sick, he was taken care of, we paid for it. But once the government gets involved, it’s anyone’s guess how much of a nightmare health care will become, or how much more scarce doctors and hospital beds will be.
How will the implementation of Obamacare affect self-employed people like ourselves, folks who can no longer afford regular health insurance? Technically we’re the type of people Obamacare is supposed to “help” – hardworking but not wealthy – yet I know from experience that government “help” almost always becomes bureaucratic, inefficient and even punitive.
Obamacare frightens me. It frightens me that health care could be used as a sledgehammer against people who disagree with the government. It frightens me that faceless bureaucrats thousands of miles away will determine what, if any, treatments someone is permitted.
Above all, it frightens me how many doctors hate Obamacare. On the ground level, I have not found a single physician or administrator who approves of this program. Many doctors talk about leaving the field or retiring. Others become almost incoherent with rage when the subject is brought up.
Yet it’s being crammed down ALL our throats, patients and providers alike, whether we like it or not. And now we’re looking at thousands of new IRS agents (IRS!!) to help administer this program. These are the people who will be collecting your medical data and fining you if you don’t understand the 70,000 pages of rules and regulations (which no one understands). Yet people think Obamacare is fair, equitable and civilized.
In light of the IRS scandal in which conservative organizations were targeted and harassed, the potential for punitive behavior on the part of the IRS with regards to health care is high. After all, the IRS official in charge of tax-exempt organizations at the time conservative groups were being targeted now runs the IRS office responsible for health-care legislation. And the IRS already considers itself above the law when it comes to stealing health-care records. Doesn’t that give you a nice warm fuzzy feeling?
How many Americans will suddenly be deemed “unfit” to own firearms based on their medical history? How many will be denied health care because of their political affiliation? How many of our elderly will be left out in the cold because their “usefulness” is over? How many more American jobs will be shipped overseas by employers who can’t afford to pay Obamacare penalties? These are all legitimate concerns.
But beyond all these ethical issues is the simple question of finances. We, like so many other Americans in these harsh economic times, were priced out of the health insurance market, but at least we had the option to work privately with providers to pay our bills. What happens when the government eliminates private insurance companies and forces us to pay for something we can’t afford? Already employers are (understandably) reducing employee work hours below the threshold to avoid the massive costs associated with providing Obamacare to their employees. I can’t blame businesses, since the cost of Obamacare would likely bankrupt them if they were forced to offer this overpriced nonsense to their employees rather than the more sensibly priced insurance they formerly provided. But how many people are having to work multiple jobs just to get in 40 hours a week, and still won’t have health coverage?
Bottom line, we are heading into an Obamacare nightmare of unknown proportions. No longer will we be able to go to the hospital, receive superb care, and pay our medical bills from our own pocket. Soon every aspect of health care will be dictated by faceless punitive overbloated bureaucrats who loathe half the citizens of this country and would just as soon see them all dead.
How’s that hope and change working for you?