Is it Really a Surprise?


October 9, 2013 by jeliwobble

As the man has been deliberating on his job decision, one of the things we have been looking at closely is health insurance. In order for us to be able to make a contract role work, we *have* to be able to afford privately purchased health insurance. With four children, this is an absolute no brainer. However, I am also a cancer survivor, therefore I have a ‘pre-existing condition’ that, up until last Tuesday, would have precluded us buying from some health insurers or paying through the nose for the privilege from others.

The Affordable Care Act, passed by House, Senate *and* deemed ‘constitutional’ in an in-depth analysis by the Supreme Court, means that my family can buy health insurance at a premium that means we can afford it (just). OK, yes, in order to have the privilege of affordability, we have also lost the right to refuse to pay it, but from a personal point of view, health insurance isn’t something anyone can actually afford to go without. It’s a relief. If Son breaks a bone, or the girls need acute asthma treatment, or I need to see a specialist to keep an eye on my hormone levels, we won’t need to remortgage the house to afford the hospital bills.

This morning, it was announced on local NPR, with pleasant surprise in the reporter’s voice, that Connecticut’s ACA website has seen a large proportion of those signing up for health insurance as being in the 18-34 age range. I have to ask why this is a surprise?

Firstly, having looked at health insurance before the ACA kicked in, it was completely out of our price range. Now it’s not. Therefore, one can only conclude that younger people, who typically earn a lot less, couldn’t afford it either.

Secondly, those younger people also typically work in temporary positions, often putting themselves through college at the same time, positions that don’t generally come with employment healthcare schemes. Due to the low earning potential of such employment, the best option was to not have health insurance at all, being young and relatively healthy. Reasonably, though, young people who end up needing healthcare, end up needing it in catastrophic ways, such as car accidents, work accidents or cancer diagnosis, placing huge burdens on themselves and their families.

Thirdly, and probably most importantly as far as I can see, this up and coming generation of young people are some of the most ‘diagnosed’ in the world… Many more of them than in previous generations will have some kind of ‘pre-existing condition’ that would have previously put health insurance far out of their reach. Now, though, the health insurance companies have to provide ‘affordable’ insurance to those with ‘pre-existing conditions’.

So, not only do young people *have* to have health insurance, where they didn’t before (or pay a fine), but they also can finally afford to have health insurance. It shouldn’t be a surprise that so many of them are availing themselves of the opportunity.

What should be surprising is that it has taken the USA so long to implement and is still frustratingly being harassed in Congress as I type. While I do understand that there are certain parts of the country which treasure the ‘right to make bad choices’, as well as the rights of the individual over the rights of the community, the time for this level of selfishness has passed. The health insurance business has had its field day and its greed is unsurpassed. It was, and has been for some time, the single biggest expense for American businesses and tax payers. While it remains to be seen if the ACA is the ‘right’ thing to be done, *something* needed to be done. Give the Act a few years and see if those costs do or don’t come down before saying that it’s going to cost us all more money.


8 thoughts on “Is it Really a Surprise?

  1. Mr Potarto says:

    I think Obamacare may turn out to be a good thing, and it is hard to see how it can be worse than the present system.

    I do wonder why they added a couple of things, namely the contraception requirement and the compulsory element to insurance. Both things are clearly going to annoy Republicans, and seem ancillary to the actual point of the act, so it seems poor government (or good politics) to include them.

    The compulsion is (to my mind) an extreme example of standard political thought:

    Politician A: “50 million people have no health insurance – we need to do something about it.”
    Politician B: “Well, why don’t we fine them for it? That’ll put a stop to it.”

    Contraception is just silly. It’s not health-care – except perhaps in a tiny percentage of cases. Choosing to have sex and not get pregnant is a popular pastime, but it is not healthcare. It’s also extremely cheap, even free in many places.

    As to your point about the right “to make mistakes”, I think this is hugely important in life and something that should be cherished. We are adults. We should choose our own paths without some political pseudo-parent nudging us in the direction approved by a majority of PPE graduates. I don’t think wanting to make your own mistakes is a selfish view, though it is obviously self-interested.

    • jeliwobble says:

      I think that this is, largely, the difference between a mum and a dad though, (hence, I presume, the feminine phraseology of ‘the Nanny state’). I feel that mums do the helicopter ‘Don’t come running to me if you break your leg’, dads are all about encouraging precisely that behaviour 😀

      While I agree, in essence, that the individual should be allowed to make bone-headed mistakes, I don’t agree that it should be at the expense of the community as a whole. Going without healthcare does impact fully on the community, should you require it and not have insurance, both in the first instance, where you are in a hospital with no way of paying for your treatment, and in the aftermath, where you, your family (parents and possibly children), your community (in the form of healthcare charities, should you be lucky enough to qualify) are left struggling to pay.

  2. Right, no man is an island, even though Americans like to think so. It is funny though to not just make it affordable, without the strong arming aspect. What I think would have been best, is change the reasons WHY it is so pricey to begin with, like limiting lawsuits and stuff, instead of trying to figure out how to come up with the money for the overpriced thing.

    • jeliwobble says:

      I do agree. It’s difficult though, because law has ‘precedent’ and therefore can seem to be untouchable when it comes to suits and what-have-you. OB, in particular, is *dreadful*. The amount of money required for OB insurance is *so* prohibitive that many OBGYNs are just stopping doing the OB side of things, even with our high health insurance premiums. That, in and of itself, is just sick. Pun intended.

  3. petra says:

    You can’t have it affordable and fair without making it compulsory. If you legislate (as some states already did) that insurance companies can’t refuse or even take into account pre-existing conditions then if you don’t make it compulsory, there’s nothing to stop healthy people waiting until they’re sick to get coverage. That pushes premiums up for everyone else as well as the fact that hospitals push up costs for the insured to cover their losses on the uninsured or under-insured. It’s either got to be totally free market, same as auto insurance say, or we have to accept that, as a society, we’re not happy with people dying from treatable diseases in one of the richest countries in the world. People pay their social security premiums, no one is allowed to opt out because they don’t want a pension when they’re old, why is this any different?

    • jeliwobble says:

      Completely agree. I can’t understand why it isn’t like that here for everyone too. But then the age old spectre of ‘Communism’ raises its ugly head every time a mandate for social anything gets mooted here…

      • petra says:

        Right! Which is why I wonder how they ever got social security passed? Or Medicaid? Or Medicare? Seems pretty ‘socialist’ to me 🙂 Obviously something like the NHS would never work in the US, completely different medical cultures have evolved over the last 70 years. But there are so many different systems to choose from, why would they stick with what is probably the most unequal, inefficient, ineffective, and unjust system that could possibly have been devised?! Obamacare is far far far from perfect but at least a step in the right direction.

    • Mr Potarto says:

      “if you don’t make it compulsory, there’s nothing to stop healthy people waiting until they’re sick to get coverage”

      I hadn’t thought of that! Thanks.

      “something like the NHS would never work in the US”

      One might argue that it will never work in the UK either! 🙂

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