Tuesday, July 3, 2012

in which i talk politics

As a person who (unbelievably) has a sphere of public influence (just see my post on jury duty!), I usually try to stay away from politics in my discourse.  I certainly have strong opinions, and I have a feeling I know what the priorities of Jesus would have been, but someone wise once said that when God starts hating the same people you hate, you're casting God in your own image.

But all this rhetoric about health care just has me itching to talk it over a little.

I don't think the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare, or whatever) is a sure thing.  I'm surprised and pleased that the SCOTUS came down like it did, but there are still miles of political road to go before we sleep (i.e. the sideshow that is Congress these days).  I also think that a single-payer system is the only way we will ever begin to address the issues of skyrocketing medical costs.

The last church I served was in a really good spot financially.  (Contrary to popular belief, churches are not typically drowning in extra cash.)  They could afford to pay for insurance for myself, Jeff, and then our child.  They paid all premiums.  We had to meet a $3000 deductible per year as a family.  No copays.  This is an insanely good deal.  On my full package breakdown, the church was paying nearly $22,000 a year to keep all three of us insured.

Part of this high dollar amount has to do with pastors, their health problems, their median age, and the depth of the pool to which we belonged.

When we moved, the insurance situation changed a bit.  In my new conference, all premiums are paid for me.  I have the option of buying insurance for my family, and it is rather exorbitant.  To cover Jeff and Vicki Jo will be about $525 per month.  Then we have a $1000 deductible as a family to meet, and even after we reach that, we still pay 20% of pretty much everything. 

I am 27 and healthy.  I could lose a few pounds, but take no medications and have no chronic health issues.

Vicki Jo is admirably healthy and has only been to the doctor for her well-child exams and some shots for the past year. 

My husband has moderate Crohn's disease.

Crohn's is a painful inflammatory condition afflicting the intestinal tract.  There is no cure.  There is sometimes not even effective management of symptoms.  At 28, he has been through a roll call of heavy-duty corticosteroids, anti-inflammatories, opioids for pain management, sedatives for the endless colonoscopies, and more.  He is expensive to keep healthy, and he must remain insured. 

The medications come with their own side effects and problems.  His joints creak, his sleep is terrible, his appetite is sporadic.  When taking steroids, his face puffs like a chipmunk. 

Jeff is an insurer's nightmare.  He is the reason we need a single-payer system.  His high needs must be balanced by a giant pool (a pool as large as our nation) of relatively healthy people.  Of course, our nation has chronic health issues, but not on the scale of Jeff's Crohn's.  We need every single healthy 27-year-old like me to jump in and offset the cost of his illness with our hardiness. 

I can hear it now.  "But why should I have to pay for someone's else's problem?"  Jeff did nothing to "earn" his Crohn's.  There is not much he can do to help it.  It may not be fair to help shoulder the cost for it, but it's certainly not fair that he suffers with it.  I guess my answer would just be what my mama told me:  Life's not fair.

I am only one person, and my family is just one of millions that is struggling with the cost of staying healthy and keeping the access that we need.  I don't have all the answers, but what we have now ain't working.  I'm game for a change.

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