(Mayfield, Kentucky) - The doctor was astonished. “You have NEVER had a colonoscopy before?” she asked Ivan. “You need one every five years.”
My husband, sitting on an examining table in the emergency room, said he just hadn't.
I jumped in and blurted out our dirty little secret to save him from further inquisition. “Because we didn’t have insurance.”
My husband chimed in. “Do you know how much one of those tests costs without insurance?”
Well. No. She didn’t. (Around $3500)
And there, dear readers, is the fact of life that we and MILLIONS like us lived with for years. No insurance. For the unemployed, the self employed, the under employed, the too young for Medicare, too rich for Medicaid, but too poor for private insurance, no medical coverage was a dirty little secret.
It's been that way in America through presidents of both parties. Shaming us by showing how the rest of the world had passed us by in affordable health care didn't work. Just because we went somewhere below the Ukraine for health care no widespread outcry went up.
Those who made any attempt were soundly, roundly thumped. Mrs. Roosevelt wanted it. Franklin had more to do. Truman got care for veterans, but stopped there. Johnson got medical care for old people (and oh, do we vote!) The Clintons tried with the result that Mrs. Clinton got her head handed to her on a paper plate. George W. Bush got a pharma plan for seniors (didn't I say Oh, do we vote?)
Then Barack Obama forced through the Affordable Care Act, the most unpopular legislation since I was a teenager. That’s back in the Sixties. Some may remember when Democratic President Lyndon Johnson thought it would be a good idea to provide medical care for old people and pushed Medicare into the American way of life. Over the howls of his GOP opponents in Congress, I might add. The left hated it because it involves private business. The right hates it because it involves Barack Obama.
The reasons for our going without insurance for almost a decade involve pre-existing conditions, premiums that rivaled a monthly house payment and deductibles that exceeded any amount that could be repaid in a year.
It was only after we both got insurance (Ivan through Medicare and I through Kynect) that we told our children how long we had been uninsured. They, bless them, all have insurance through their employers. Mom and Dad, the wild and crazy baby boomer we're-gonna-live-forever entrepreneurs, struck out on our own pursuing the American dream.
With Obamacare, our pre-existing conditions don't matter. Premiums are adjusted for incomes. Our insurance cards make me feel the way I felt about my first driver's license. Proud. Excited. Relieved.
So, when I hear self righteous governmentally insured politicians rage against the Affordable Care Act. I want to scream obscenities at them. Their smug assurance that they are entitled to be taken care of by the “best medical system in the world” should they stub their patrician toes should carry every uninsured American to the polls in May and November to throw the bums out.
People like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell who constantly rail against the first imperfect effort to provide minimal medical care to every American, are on the wrong side of history. Politicians like Representative Greg Stumbo and the Kentucky House Democrats that went along with a Senate budget proposal to not fund Obamacare with the excuse that it is “symbolic” are cowards.
The howl that the world will end tomorrow because Americans will be able to see a doctor, get regular check ups and enjoy a modicum of good health should have been cause for rejoicing and cooperation. Instead, those on the right, the spiritual grandchildren of those who opposed social security and the children of those who hated Medicare, now tell us there is something wrong with a government that wants to make health care into a benefit for all Americans.
They lack the capacity for compassion.
And that’s their dirty little secret.
As for me and my house, all I can say is-