Affordable Healthcare Means No Doctors for the Middle Class

ankleEach week, in a dumpy old gym, I get together with a group of guys to play basketball. We’re all attorneys, and we’ve been playing together for over five years. Over that time, we’ve seen a broken ankle, a broken nose, a mangled and broken wrist, a blown out knee, and several other sprains and bruises. I’ve personally broken my finger and my ribs over that time, and about three weeks ago, I added a broken ankle to that list of injuries as well.

OK, I say I’ve broken my ribs, finger, and ankle, but I don’t actually know for sure that any of them were ever broken. Why not? I don’t go to doctors. I’ve been an attorney for five years, and ever since Congress decided to mess with health insurance in the United States, I haven’t been able to afford health insurance.

That’s right: I’m an attorney, and I can’t afford health insurance. Guess what? I’m not alone. It’s not at all uncommon among attorneys — at least those who aren’t in-house counsel for large corporations and who don’t work for giant firms — to be in the same exact position as me. Of the attorneys I play basketball with, the only ones who have health insurance have it because their wives happen to have government jobs that provide health insurance for the whole family. The rest of us flat out can’t afford it.

Three weeks ago, I rolled my ankle so severely that I heard (and felt) it pop. Over the next week my ankle swelled up until it looked like my leg was smuggling a softball to work, and the ankle turned a deep shade of purple. I wasn’t able to walk on the ankle, and at least 50 people begged me to go see a doctor. So, I did what most people in my position would do: I hopped (no pun intended) onto Amazon.com and ordered a walking boot. It has been three weeks, and although my ankle feels better, I still can’t bend it and it hurts. What do I expect, I guess, when my diagnosis and treatment came from Dr. Google?

The very name of the new Affordable Care Act is painfully ironic to me, and I’m sure many others of the middle class. That means my family and many other families are living day to day without the option of having affordable health insurance and that’s not okay. I’ve been told, by friends, people on Twitter, and through opinion article after opinion article that there are subsidies available that will make health insurance affordable for me. The reality is, for my income to make coverage possible under the Affordable Care Act I’d basically either need to earn less than I do now, or earn $20k more to afford the premiums and astronomically-high annual deductibles.

In reality, the Affordable Care Act just shifted that window of un-affordability to a new group of people. It’s not an acceptable solution. I don’t care what law Congress passes and what they call it or who gets credit for it. It doesn’t matter what party champions the cause or if what is already in place is repealed, reformed, or just modified. I just want Congress to pass something that makes health insurance available and affordable for everyone in the United States. I don’t want it to just be affordable to the poor, and I don’t want it to just be available for the wealthy — I want it to be affordable for everybody, because my ankle would greatly appreciate the ability to have a diagnosis from something other than a well constructed Google search.

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