The reactions to the Supreme Court decision will be coming all day, and I have no illusion that I can add much to any legal debate. I have a particular perspective on this issue, however, because health care has been a major concern for my family and me for many years.
Except for my early film and television work, and a few horrible months as a technical editor for ADP, I have never held a “job” as an adult. I have always been a freelancer. This means insurance has been a concern. For the first half of my marriage, it was no problem because my wife was gainfully employed. Since our son was born 14 years ago, my wife has been freelance as well, which means we’re self-insuring.
Over that time I’ve watched my monthly premiums increase to $1500 for a family of four: more than our mortgage. There was no option of going without. I have a condition that requires an expensive drug, and my wife and son are both on monthly medications. The drug costs alone would have been close to $2500 a month, so the insurance was, oddly enough, a good deal for us … as long as we could pay it.
And then, we couldn’t pay it any more. Three years ago we lost a major publishing client, and we were making enough per month for the mortgage or the insurance: not both. We burned through what money we had, borrowed more, and got behind. Only now are we beginning to recover.
“Mortgage or meds” is not a choice people should have to make, but it’s a fact of life, and it needs to be addressed. As Christians, we are called to care for the last and the least. Basic medical care—restoring or preserving good health—is indeed a basic human right, as the Church teaches.
The question, however, is not whether or not people are entitled to access to medical care. They are so entitled, and please don’t give me your bullshit Objectivist arguments about the responsibility of the individual and expect me to take you seriously. Been there, done that, grew up. If I’m not responsible for the well-being of my fellow-man, then I have no business being part of society.
The question is: How is this best accomplished?
And my answer is: Not this way.
Obamacare is a mess: a tangle of bureaucratic systems that interfere with healthcare choices at every stage, creating a vast new form of government control that will, inevitably, spiral out of control. Do you really believe that a government which has a financial interest in your health is going to resist using coercive force to make you maintain it? If you think Nanny Bloomberg is bad, just wait until his policies are federalized in the interest of cutting healthcare costs.
The government isn’t nationalizing healthcare: it’s nationalizing health. It makes your very state of being of intense personal interest to the people who brought us such wonderful engines of compassion and efficiency as the IRS, the ATF, the TSA, and the Fed, as well as the housing crisis, the bank bailouts, the HHS mandate, and, of course, endless wars, drone killings, and indefinite detention without charges. And now we’ve just carved off a huge chunk of our lives—the well-being of our very bodies—and turned that over to them as well. Thank you so much for that, Obama voters.
There were ways to go about this short of a full power-grab, but massive statist intervention seems to be the only thing the left understand any more. The idea of going slowly, trying a few things at a time (such as expanding Medicaid access or allowing people to shop outside their state for insurance, which could have saved me as much as $1000 a month) is anathema for them. They desire control, because they know best: you see, they care more than those wicked conservatives, and they just want to help, and if that means stomping on freedom of conscience or the right of the individual to say, “no, I won’t buy your damn insurance because I’m perfectly healthy,” then so be it. Eggs, omlets: it’s always the same story for them. Do they even realize they’re supporting the right of the government to put you in jail if you refuse to buy a product from a private company?
The Republicans are just as much to blame for this fiasco, because they had 8 years to deal with an obvious problem in a sensible way and did nothing. That created an opening for the left—driven as they are by a childish utopianism that believes it can solve the problems of the world through their holy trinity: Legislation, Taxation, and Bureaucracy—to go all-in on a huge, unfundable, unsustainable, freedom-violating “solution.”
It was never “Obamacare or granny dies.” That’s just an idiotic leftist talking point. There were always other options and approaches short of the government seizure of 1/5th of the economy. But when your endgame is power and control, you won’t settle for half-measures.
I am the person Obamacare was created to help. Me. Right now, and probably for another six months to a year, I’m the working poor, trying hard to stay afloat in an economy ruined by the people who now get to take a shot at “fixing” healthcare.
And I completely reject it. I reject it even though I believe some national approach to helping the poor access healthcare is not just allowed by the state and the constitution, but required by us as Christians. I reject it because I know they will make a hash of it. And I know they will make a hash of it because they always do.