Well, the political battle of the (still young) century is over. And, despite the ugly fear mongering of the Republicans — and the very sad racial and homophobic epithets tossed at members of Congress this weekend during the final debate by “Tea Party” activists — the country has shown some political spine and done the right thing.
You’d expect me to have been, like the crazies on the right, apoplectic about the proposed changes to health care. Simply, I am a winner in the current system. I actually have a choice of excellent, affordable group coverage for me and my family through either my wife’s employer or mine.
My taxes will go up: I will have to pay Medicare taxes on unearned income. We won’t get a dime in government subsidies to buy insurance. Because we live in Massachusetts, I suspect the Cadillac tax will eventually hit us as well.
So, why am I pleased at the prospect of real, fundamental, systemic change in health care? Two simple reasons. First, even as a winner in the current system, I can tell you it’s broken, busted, kaput and will bankrupt us. Check this out: I went to see a doctor in my network. Six weeks later, I was checking claims online for another reason and noticed the insurance company had paid thousands for an office surgical procedure I didn’t have on that date. I called the insurance company who wanted me to have to call the doctor’s office and get them to fix it. Sorry, but I took the time to try and fix it by calling the insurance company, who effectively admitted to me that there’s so much waste and confusion in the system that unless I personally undertook to fix it, it would cost them more than they could recover to do it themselves.
Second, anything can happen. Today, I am a winner. Tomorrow, I could be destitute. I am willing to pay more now to make sure that when and if the bottom of my life falls out, I could still get medical help. It just seems so basic, so fundamental to life in a civilized country that I am astonished it took 100 years and (probably) will destroy the Obama presidency. One thing I am certain of: without this reform, if the worst were to happen, it would easy to die indigent — a terrible way to go after a lifetime of work and taxes.
Bottom line, this was about fairness to people.