On Monday, I endured a dental procedure where strips of skin were pulled from the roof of my mouth to place around my receding gum line. No, I do not smoke. In fact, I am meticulous in my dental hygiene. So how does this happen to people?
You have a baby, that’s what. Yes, among the millions of other things no one tells you before you procreate, you can get ‘pregnancy gingivitis.’ Basically, the baby leaches nutrients out of your body to such an extent that your gums recede, leaving your nerves exposed until you can scrape together $2000 to fix the problem.
But wait! This ain’t no pity party! And don’t worry – I’m getting to a point. And that point is about the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). My surgery Monday wasn’t fun, and I look like Marlon Brando from The Godfather right now, but I was able to get it fixed because I have health insurance. I will not have nerve damage because I have health insurance. Currently, 32 million of my fellow Americans do not.
We know, in a broad wishy-washy sense, that our present health care system has flaws. We know we need to do something different. But do any of us REALLY understand what Obamacare means? What it’s all about? A simple Google search turns up a great deal – but none of it in the kind of CliffsNotes package many of us need considering we are working, studying or raising families while we educate ourselves in order to vote. So here’s some bare bones (according to The Economist – the least partisan source I found):
If you vote for Obama, then by 2014, the Affordable Care Act will:
- eliminate insurers’ restrictions on pre-existing conditions
- establish state-run health care exchanges (where people can choose their own plan)
- mandate all Americans to buy health insurance (but subsidize for those with incomes of 100% – 400% of the poverty level)
- expand Medicaid to those with incomes of up to 138% of the poverty level
If you vote for Romney, you will vote to repeal this act and replace it with…something else. He has not made his own vision clear (read more here). But we do know he would like to give more power to individual states, promote competition, and give consumers more choices. In addition, he wants to:
- Allow individuals to buy insurance across state lines
- Give tax breaks to those who opt to buy insurance on their own
- Give states a set amount for Medicaid
The Economist sides reluctantly with Obama. So do I. There are flaws in Obamacare, such as possible increases in taxes to cover the cost. The mandate is annoying. Neither of them directly address the fact that 18% of our GDP is spent on healthcare (compared to, say, Canada who spends 11%). But I hope I am not alone in my willingness to be taxed so that others do not die for lack of care – even if that system is not perfect.
As I was researching this post (and judiciously procrastinating as all writers must), I glanced at the Sunday Review which boasted an article by Nicholas Kristof about Obamacare called “A Possibly Fatal Mistake.” And in that amazing Kristof-y way (who doesn’t love this guy?), he puts a compelling face on the issue and pulls at the heartstrings. And I think heartstrings are underrated in terms of how we make our political decisions. I don’t want to start all over again, and I don’t want to just wait and see what Romney’s team comes up with (though no doubt it will comprise binders full of women).
Voting for Obama means 32 million people will gain access to health care in the very near future. Sounds good to me.
“We are the only democracy — the only advanced democracy on Earth — the only wealthy nation —
that allows such hardship for millions of its people.” – Barack Obama