A Los Angeles area woman who was recently diagnosed with stage three breast cancer has this to say to President Obama about the healthcare reform law he signed into law and what she and many others derisively called “Obamacare”: I’m sorry.
That’s right. Spike Dolomite Ward is sorry.
Why? Well, when the 49-year-old mother got a cancer diagnosis, her family hadn’t had health insurance for several years. Not because they’re selfish freeloaders who thought they were invincible … no, not at all. Her family had to make a choice that millions of Americans make every year: health insurance or their house.
They had already cashed in savings, retirement and any equity they had in their family home to keep making COBRA payments and eventually non-employer subsidized health insurance after the COBRA benefits ran out. They were paying as much for health insurance as they were on their mortgage.
Still, when Obama was pushing for healthcare reform, the one-time supporter of Obama re-registered as an independent and changed her “Got Hope” bumper-sticker to say “Got Nope.”
Then, her diagnosis. And also, a discovery. Thanks to the law’s Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan now in place, she is guaranteed access to healthcare coverage. She writes in the LA Times:
The application was short, the premiums are affordable, and I have found the people who work in the administration office to be quite compassionate (nothing like the people I have dealt with over the years at other insurance companies.) It’s not perfect, of course, and it still leaves many people in need out in the cold. But it’s a start, and for me it’s been a lifesaver — perhaps literally.
The new healthcare law isn’t perfect by any stretch. But Ward’s story is a hard-to-argue-with demonstration that government intervention isn’t a blanket evil. What’s unfortunate is that it takes a life-threatening turn of events to get people on board.
The healthcare debate was particularly frustrating — and continues to be as GOP candidates threaten to undo these newly enacted laws, some of which have yet to take effect — because so many people like Ward, who at the time had no horse in the race, didn’t see health insurance as the luxury that it has become. What’s incredible to me is that by the time she was altering bumper-stickers, her family had already cashed out their retirement and home equity. Was that not a sign to them that something was broken and it wasn’t them?
This is a really bad habit Americans of all political stripes have fallen into — looking out just for themselves and their immediate needs, without stretching the mind a bit to consider the big picture.
Public school funding is another example of this. So many families who live in areas with “good” schools — or who can afford to send their kids to private school — won’t vote to raise taxes to increase funding. It doesn’t effect them, they say, why should they pay more.
Any time you mention government subsidized childcare, you get the same push back. “I don’t use daycare, why should I pay?” Don’t they know that the clerk at Target does use childcare? Or their neighbor? Or maybe a cousin? Thing is, even if you would never consider it, publicly funded education is your back-up plan. As is some form of paid childcare should you ever have to work outside the home.
Even if these different political battles are not about you or your kid — or your breast cancer diagnosis — how do you justify not thinking it’s necessary for others? How do you not get that, in the end, it’s helpful for us all?