Sadder - but wiser
By Raymond Freeman 10/03/2013
Disasters happen fast. Let’s hope this one never happens to you. It’s like The Out-of-Towners movie. Conservatives can leave the theater now.
You’re going to a barbecue with friends. There won’t be any of those stupid liberals. Your favorite radio guy explained it: There’s only so much “freedom” out there and “they’re taking it away every day.” Your car’s being serviced. You’ll walk; it’s not far. You’re crossing the road. There’s a screeching of tires, then bang — you’ve been knocked down.
The driver gets out. You ask for his license and insurance. He has neither. He gives you a P.O. Box number. Write to him when you’ve been “fixed up.” He’ll “see what he can do.” But, but, you splutter, ”What about the law?” Turns out he believes “someone’s gotta take a stand” against “government tyranny” because “freedom isn’t free.” Vroom, he’s gone. You see a Tea Party bumper sticker.
You’re taken to the emergency room. Turns out you have nasty compound fractures, but they “should be able to save both legs.” They ask for your insurance. You don’t have any. You overhear someone use the word “moocher.” How can that be? Rock-ribbed Republicans like you aren’t moochers. Your friends visit you. Insurance isn’t mentioned. Somehow, first-rate healthcare is your right. This is America, not some Third World country.
Compound fractures are hard to fix and slow to heal. After many weeks, you can leave, on crutches. You still have your job, fortunately. But the “superbug” you caught in the hospital was treated with a new drug. Turns out the FDA didn’t investigate it properly, as its funding was drastically cut under Bush. You’ll have some ghastly bowel weakness for the rest of your life.
Then the bills start coming. You seem to get dozens. You’re stunned. They’re almost a quarter of a million dollars! Then the phone calls start. They want to discuss a “business matter.” You find a “medical-billing advocate” who cuts them down by 31 percent. (Hospital bills are inflated ludicrously.)
One day you’re served with a load of lawsuits. You’re stunned. You still can’t walk properly.
You see an attorney. Your only option is bankruptcy. Your bankruptcy lawyer demands money upfront, since “deadbeats don’t pay bills.” Managing your anger superbly, you pay. Turns out that 62 percent of bankruptcies are caused by medical bills (Harvard study). Of those cases, 80 percent do have health insurance (healthcare-now.org). He says the “good old days” of just “walking away from your bills” in bankruptcy have “long gone.” The bankers “saw to that.” They’re “all Republicans” and believe in “personal responsibility” (hinting that you don’t).
Finally, the legal nightmare’s over. But one day someone from human resources wants to “see you privately.” Turns out you’ll be paying 25 percent of your salary to the people who sued you: hospital, doctors, ambulance, labs, therapists, etc. You nearly pass out cold. You’re only just scraping by as it is. With all those legal fees and interest, you’ll never pay it off.
Your friends “wish they could help you” but they’ve all just bought expensive motorcycles. You remind them to get licensed and insured, and to wear proper crash helmets, even though all that’s an “intrusion on their liberty.” They don’t call you again.
One month, you’re late paying the rent. You get an eviction notice. You’ll have to pay with a money order, plus an outrageous “processing fee.” How can all this be happening? You’re scared; you’re lonely; you’re poverty-stricken. And you did nothing wrong.
Well, you did. You went without health insurance in America.
Courtesy of the Republican Party, there’s one house you’ll never leave — the House of Bondage. You turn to houses of faith. Some churches don’t really want to know you. How so? Aren’t they fine conservatives like you? You’re confused. But one church does welcome you. The minister seems pretty liberal. You’re desperate, so you stay. The people there are wonderful and aren’t bigots. Mercifully, there’s a fund to help you.
Someone mentions that Obamacare will help “people like you” to get affordable health insurance because “you’re so poor.” There’ll be subsidies for people on low incomes. You won’t be turned down because of your “pre-existing condition.” Insurance companies won’t be able to rip people off, or drop them if they get sick and settle the lawsuits as a cost of doing business to keep those healthy profits flowing. Imagine that! Insurance will actually insure. Well, sort of; there’ll still be huge overhead costs, around 20 percent, compared with Medicare, at 3 percent.
It turns out that Obamacare is basically a copy of Mitt Romney’s plan in Massachusetts, originally propounded by the conservative Heritage Foundation. It’s been a success. Why do conservatives hate it so much? It makes no sense. Neither does that raving dope-head on the radio. But you stopped listening to him months ago.