mimulus_borogove: (Default)
[personal profile] mimulus_borogove
I was pleased with the last American presidential debate. It was an interesting, lively format, and we heard some details we hadn't heard before.

Health care is a big issue for our family. Although we're all healthy right now (knock wood), we've had some big scares, and we know the value of good insurance.

When I was pregnant, I worked full-time and got truly fabulous health insurance. This was excellent stuff, covering things I didn't use, such as acupuncture and fertility treatment. I was especially grateful for it when our spontaneous twins decided to continue their trend of spontaneity by arriving eight weeks early (nine weeks, according to some calculations). The total hospital bill for the kids' first five weeks ran $945,000. That's just the hospital bill; it doesn't include the doctors' fees and radiology and breast pump rental and so forth.

$945,000. And I was getting good nutrition and prenatal care. Sure, I had gestational diabetes--a common complication of twin pregnancy--but it went away shortly after I gave birth. The kids themselves didn't actually develop any major problems. The majority of the time they lay there racking up the bills, it was just because they were too small and undeveloped to swallow, to survive without an incubator, and do those other things that full-term babies are born knowing to do.

We continued our insurance through COBRA as long as we could, and then applied for private insurance. Since we weren't planning to have any more kids, we applied for one with no maternity coverage.

We were denied coverage.

I called our insurance agent and asked why, and the agent told me it was because of the gestational diabetes and the premature births. The fact that we planned to have no more pregnancies didn't matter. The fact that we planned to have no more births didn't matter. The fact that my husband, our twins, and I were all healthy didn't matter. We were denied coverage.

So when the candidates talked about their plans, I was interested.

McCain's plan to give everyone $5,000 sounds nice. Who doesn't like money? But  he never mentioned how he'd make sure we did get coverage. I went to McCain's Web site this morning and read it through. I saw nothing there that would help us to get coverage if we were denied private insurance. And call me cynical, but it seems to me that $5,000 more for insurance for every family just sounds like a recipe for letting the insurance companies raise all premiums by $5,000 per family.

Obama said that everyone could keep their insurance if they liked it, but those who wished to do so could buy into a plan like the one he and McCain have as government employees. He specifically said that no one would go uninsured. No one. Not our family, who was denied coverage because of past pregnancy and birth complications. Not a former babysitter of ours, who couldn't get insured because of asthma. Obama's Web site backs this up. Under Obama's plan, no one would go uninsured at all.

Things have worked out for my family. My husband applied for membership in a professional organization that offered health insurance to all members, regardless of medical history. It's very expensive, but at least it's health insurance. We can afford the premiums.

Not everyone is so lucky. Not everyone has access, and not everyone has enough money. Obama's health care plan would protect those people as well as us. McCain's wouldn't.

Vote for health care for everyone. Vote for Obama.

Date: 2008-10-16 10:20 pm (UTC)
auros: (Obama)
From: [personal profile] auros
McCain believes, religiously, that the market is always the solution. His plan, therefore, is to shove as many as people as possible into that market, and give the firms as much freedom as possible to make their policies more complicated, confusing, and discriminatory.

That $5k-per-family tax credit is funded by eliminating business' tax credit for covering health insurance. It's estimated that this will lead to roughly 20M people losing their employer-sponsored health insurance. And since the average family plan costs $12k, even if you could get the same plan, you'd be $7k in the hole. Now, McCain says that if they're no longer covering healthcare, employers will just roll that benefits money into your paycheck, making up the missing $7k. Call me cynical, but I don't see employers being all that enthusiastic about an across the board pay raise for their employees. When they cut benefits, there's not going to be anything close to a fully compensatory raise.

Finally, by allowing interstate shopping for policies, McCain will encourage healthy people to buy cheap policies in states with no significant regulation over what needs to be covered. As a result, these people will have less coverage than they should, so the ones that actually get really sick will be almost as badly off as the uninsured. Additionally, the people who are older or generally in poorer health will not be able to get these policies, so they'll be in a shrinking pool of "high risk" insurance applicants; if they can get insurance at all, the premiums will be unaffordable.

In sum, as bad as our current situation is, McCain's plan would make it exponentially worse.
Edited Date: 2008-10-16 10:25 pm (UTC)

Date: 2008-10-17 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
You bring up a good point. It's not like we'll all get a $5,000 check in the mail if McCain is elected.

Date: 2008-10-17 03:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cynodd.livejournal.com
This has been my big issue for very similar reasons.

When I was 22, I fell and broke my back. I was uninsured, because I was in the gap between my parent's coverage ending and my job's coverage kicking in. Actually I worked as a full-time long-term temp for a (ah, yes, irony) healthcare company. They had agreed to hire me on permanently, and my first day of work I had the accident. I lost my job. And I had a few thousand dollars of medical bills after the government picked up what they could. I moved in with my parents and put my salary towards paying off my medical bills, and was out of debt a year later. But it left me jaded about the medical system.

Then, the summer before my daughter was born, while pregnant, I switched jobs. The new church was willing to pay for healthcare coverage, provided I could find some. My old insurance could've been COBRAed, but in the new state I would have been out-of-network, and thereby not covered. So as long as I didn't actually go start the new job, I could've kept the coverage, but then I couldn't pay the rent. So I had to find new insurance with the new job. But pregnancy is a pre-existing condition, and so they don't have to cover it. And I had gestational diabetes, as well, which made me riskier. The only insurance company that would pick me up at all was Blue Care Network/Blue Cross Blue Shield (ironically, the same company that fired me at age 22 for the back injury). But they didn't have to cover my pregnancy. And since my church had only one full time employee--me--they didn't have to include me in an existing group plan or give us a new group plan which would include pre-existing conditions. I spent a FULL MONTH working non-stop on this issue (my vacation from the other job as I was leaving), switching insurance agents, talking on the phone, researching it. Finally a new insurance agent said that IF (and only IF) my current insurance was a group plan, then BCN/BCBS would give me a group plan. I had to send a photocopy of my ordination certificate, my marriage license, and God knows what else (the ONLY time I've EVER been asked for either of those two documents, and Chicago lost our marriage license and couldn't find it for a week), as well. Finally, after incredible persistence, I was covered under a loophole. Miraculously. If my previous plan hadn't been a group plan (which, after all, at a church with only one employee might have happened), then I would not have been covered for the emergency C-section I required when Cupcake wouldn't come out after 24 hours of labor.

So I was reluctant to vote for Obama in the primaries, because I thought his healthcare plan wasn't as good as either Edwards' or Clinton's, but I think it's gotten better, he's listened some to Clinton on it, and it's a HELL OF A LOT BETTER than McCain's anti-affordability plan.

Not that I have strong opinions or anything.

Date: 2008-10-17 05:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
Thanks for telling your story. It's important that we tell people these things. We all need to understand how the presidency can affect us.

We're not voting for a title in the high school yearbook. This is serious stuff, and it's good to have strong opinions about it.

Date: 2008-10-18 05:47 am (UTC)
auros: (Obama)
From: [personal profile] auros
I was originally for Edwards, because Edwards clearly had the best positions on taxes and healthcare. But I've always thought Obama had a clearer understanding of energy and climate, and he's really impressed me over the last six months.

Hillary was never a serious possibility for my vote. Too polarizing, too willing to hand the GOP material for the general (see: Ayres, William), and all her good proposals were stolen from either Edwards or Obama.

And I'm deeply thankful, given later developments, that we didn't end up with Edwards on the ticket...

Date: 2008-10-20 09:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
In Hilary's defense, I don't really care if someone else had the same ideas first. It's the whole picture that matters. That said, I'm very happy with the idea of an Obama presidency.

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