Fifty Plus: The Unaffordable Care Act

linda r. jones

Linda R. Jones/Photo by Kevin Blackburn

By Linda R. Jones

I was strolling through the forest with my walking stick (because I’m 55), saw a hornets’ nest, observed it, and thought, “I’m going to smack this thing to smithereens.”  I did.  I got stung repeatedly, but I also got a few of those hornets with my stick.  Right before the New Hampshire primary.  Here we go.

I voted for President Obama twice.  I just wanted one thing, JUST ONE THING: universal healthcare.  I wasn’t asking for much in eight years, but what did we get?  The Unaffordable Care Act.  This act makes no sense.  How can an American, working at barely living wages, have to pay nearly two hundred dollars a month for health insurance and have a six thousand dollar annual deductible if they have a pre-existing condition?  Additionally, how can an American be fined because they couldn’t afford to participate in the act and the fine is cheaper?

I’ve had it fairly easy with health insurance.  My husband is retired military so we don’t pay premiums and co-pays are reasonable.  My first encounter with the horrors of unaffordable health care access was in my early twenties.  I worked with a young woman who said she wasn’t sure if she could take her child to the doctor.  I asked her why and she said that she would have to choose between utility bills or a doctor’s visit.  I was stunned.  Her child was sick, she had two incomes, and this was her predicament.  I felt ashamed and relieved at the same time.  I had two young sons and health care for them.  How is it that the most authoritarian segment of our society (the military) is the most egalitarian?  The military has a structure and for the most part it takes care of its people.  Military service should not be a prerequisite for affordable health care.

Throughout my years, I’ve never been able to comprehend why we don’t have universal health care in the United States.  I’m of European ancestry and had the good fortune to live in Europe for a few years.  They have universal health care and they’ve had it for quite some time.

Under Otto von Bismarck, Germany was united in the 1800s.  Fearing socialism (Karl Marx was popular at the time), Bismarck “implemented the world’s first modern welfare state.”  Let that sink in for a bit.  Bismarck feared socialism so he made sure the people had the basics.  The system has survived two world wars.

Sure, Europe has other problems right now.  But they still have universal health care and other lovely, unimaginable things for we Americans like a living wage, paid vacation (your regular pay twice), over 18 federal holidays (depending on the country), and superior education.

Here comes Bernie Sanders.  Standby, I feel a lot of hornets flying around.  Sanders is the peoples’ champion.  He foresees a living wage, no crushing debt for university graduates, health care as a right, he wants banks held accountable, and “a great nation and its government belong to all of the people, and not a handful of billionaires and their super PACs.”  What is so threatening by this man?  Come on, people!  Wake up!  It could be a bloodless revolution.  All we have to do is get the clowns in Congress on track.  Nothing else has worked in the past, so why not give this guy a try?  He might be able to get us at least one thing, JUST ONE THING: universal health care.  It would be nice, anyway, before we Boomers are all dead.

But that’s just my opinion.  Yours?

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