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ObamaCare

*This is in response to a challenge on Facebook that I put up to my friends. Give me a subject and I’ll write 1500 words or less on it. 1500 words is a lot of words. I should have limited myself to 1,000 words or – better yet – 500. 500 is challenging.

I try to avoid political hot potatoes. It isn’t because I am afraid of the responses or even that I am afraid that I might offend someone. I was raised that my political opinion belongs to me and is really no one’s business. That’s the underlying theory of the secret ballot, a luxury we have been given in the United States of America. Who I vote for and why belongs solely to me. It isn’t anyone’s business. When I want to opine on something, I will do so with like-minded souls, or souls who can listen objectively. In today’s current climate, there is very little objectivity and a lot of subjectivity. We opine emotionally without taking into consideration all facets of an argument, or the facet that we could be wrong in our opinion.

ObamaCare is one of those subjects. I don’t mind calling the Affordable Care Act “ObamaCare” – I do not think it reflects negatively on the subject as much as it was intended to. The sting went out of the monicker when President Barak Obama embraced it during a debate against Mitt Romney in the 2012 elections. The President said he rather liked the nick-name, diffusing its detractors with a humored smile. We can call it the ACA, The Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, and it is all one and the same: it is an attempt to bring affordable health care to every American.

Of course, I have an opinion. That does not make me 1) right or 2) informed. I am still in the process of understanding it all. I am of the opinion (and I believe, rightly so) that we should have someone who can guide us through the quagmire, much like I have an independent insurance agent through The Fournier Group that helps me choose the best car/home insurance based on rates & deductibles for my area. She does the research and she lets me know when it is a good time to change. I don’t pay her for this service: she gets paid by the Fournier Group which is funded by insurance companies vying to do business with the general public. It’s a win/win for me. I would love to have that kind of informed advice when I approach the CoverOregon website.

I’m confused by all the options. I have a lot of questions about the Federal subsidies, what is covered, what the deductibles are, and about how much prescriptions are covered. I am not in the target demographic (young and healthy), but I am of an age where I bring a number of pre-existing conditions to the table, some of which require expensive medications. I am old enough to sit around with my cronies and gripe about the grippe. I need good coverage that is not going to eat into my retirement nest egg.

I wanted some sort of universal health care to pass. I’m not certain we took the right steps when we modeled ours after the Massachusetts model rather than the Canadian model. I find it amusing that the former governor of MA campaigns against the ACA. Fining people for not participating is definitely on my “I do not agree with” list. It should be optional – let’s get past the “Nanny State” enforcement. If some people choose to go without health care insurance, let them.

I love that we can cover our 22 year old daughter who has no health insurance coverage of her own and who is not enrolled in school (part time or full time). It is about time that we modeled some kind of security to young people struggling to find themselves at a time when their choices might just put them in the hospital. Before the law passed and we could re-add her to our insurance, she had to take advantage of the local ER’s charity program. That became a bill footed by the tax-payer dollar (and the private charity which the hospital taps into to cover such indigent cases).  I do not believe anyone should ever be turned away from a hospital, an ER, an Urgent Care, or even a doctor’s office when it is a life-threatening situation. The ACA was created, in part, to stop that kind of discrimination.

What can we do now? The law has been passed. The deadlines are drawing near to enroll. There will be tax fines if you opt out. The websites – including CareOregon – are not ready, cannot handle the volume, and do not operate anywhere near the capacity they should.

If I were to make any point, it would be that we can tweak the law as we go since it has already been passed and we have to live with it. Being for- or against- it does little good once the thing has been signed into law. I agree with the Democratic leaders who are now calling upon the President to push the deadline for enrollment to March of 2014. Heck, make it the same deadline given small businesses: January 2015. Spend that time making certain the websites work, the options are clear, and that the volume can be handled. In other words: get the ducks in order.

I would urge Congress to repeal the fine. Why should we care if there remain individuals who do not care to enroll or who cannot enroll (indigents)? Sure, they run the cost up for the rest of us, but that is what a free economy incurs as a cost of being free. Making it mandatory only places the onus of enforcement on another government agency. It is our duty as human beings to support those who cannot support themselves. It’s called charity. (And that is an opinion only. Opinions are subject to a lot of things, including change.) Personally, I do not like the government threatening me with a “do this or else” mandate. It flies in the very face of freedom.

I am not quite sitting on the fence on this. I don’t like the way the law was written and I don’t like the way it will be enforced. I do like parts of it, and those parts are very good. It is law now. The only thing we can do now is to work together to make it work the way we all dreamed it should – and that may require for the advocates to give up some of their cherished parts of the law. It may also require those of us in my camp (the anti-ObamaCare camp) to give up a little of our opinion in order to give the law a fair shake at working. We all need to get off of our soap boxes and start having an actual dialogue about the subject.

Meanwhile, if you have already signed up and you have found that the premiums and high deductible are acceptable, I would like to hear from you. I still have time to make a decision whether to go with my insurance at work or to try out ObamaCare – regardless of my opinion of it.

Word count: 1234. I could cut out 234 words and still say the same thing. I fail at this exercise by my own standards.

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