Obamacare’s Sticker Shock

Obamacare’s Sticker Shock November 14, 2013


I voted for Obama twice. After President George W. Bush foolishly led us headstrong, willy-nilly into an ill-conceived war I was eager to put anybody running against the GOP into office. At least I had the good sense to only vote for Bush the first term.

Yes, I am one of those independent-minded people who votes not with the party but with the candidate.

Am I sorry I didn’t put Mitt Romney into office?

No. Not at all.

But am I doubly-sorry that I did put Obama into office twice?

You betcha.

Listen, if the Bush administration orchestrated half the foul-ups the Obama administration has, the media would have driven Bush to market nekkid and squealing all the way.

Oh. Wait. That’s right. He did, and they did.

Institutional knowledge is such an onerous thing.

I could go on and on about the failed policies of Obama. His inability to get along with others, to invoke acrimony among the very people he was elected to lead. His arrogant willfulness to turn not one but two blind eyes to the abuses of the First Amendment by his own administration, all in the name of protecting us. Hear, hear, Thomas Hobbes.

And now – Obamacare. You don’t have to have a PhD to figure out that the reason healthcare is so critical to Obama is because of losing his mama at such an early age. In theory it’s a notable cause. I, too, think we are a rich enough nation to be able to afford healthcare for all.

Of course, it could be argued that healthcare wouldn’t be such a burden if we didn’t keep sending young men and young women off to fight other people’s wars, and bringing them home with missing limbs and shattered souls.

While waiting for a plane out of DC on Monday, I saw a young woman with all four limbs missing. She was standing on prosthetic legs with her prosthetic arms resting on her hips. She was waiting on somebody or something. I saw her later, walking through the airport, every step a struggle. Young women don’t lose all four limbs like that except to roadside bombs or IEDs. Had a car wreck mangled her like that her face would have been scarred and it was not. It was baby-butt perfect skin. My mama’s heart ached for this young woman. Earlier that day I walked past an African-American man sitting in a wheelchair near the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. He had no limbs and likely no genitalia from the looks of his injuries.

There’s a verse in Scripture about a man stirring up the waters about his own house. In other words, making his own troubles. We certainly seem to have a history of doing that as a nation. When will we get a clue and stop acting as the war-mongers our leaders have positioned us to be? You don’t see Congress lining up to volunteer to march off to war.

You won’t find them online signing up for Obamacare either.

They have good health plans, paid for with tax dollars.

Yours and mine.

Two of my four children are in that hurting place as a result of the disaster that is Obamacare. Responsible to their very core, they were already covered through private policies that they picked and paid for themselves. They had done their due diligence and researched different options. One of them has a small child who has to be covered as well. They already had affordable health care that covered things like immunizations and well-baby checks.

Under Obamacare, both girls will see their monthly healthcare cost double, while their coverage will decrease. And they aren’t the only ones. Check out this article in the LA Times.  In fact, both girls fall into that category where they won’t be covered at all until Obama’s people get the great cluster-fluck that is Obamacare straightened out.

Not that I have any hopes at all that’s ever going to happen. There is something Orwellian about this notion of entrusting our health care to the very same authority that has been spying on all of us.

What Obama hasn’t yet figured out is that this cluster fluck isn’t a matter of failure of technology. It isn’t a matter of a failure of information. It isn’t a matter of resistance from the GOP. Obamacare is a failure because of every other failure of this administration: It’s a failure of leadership.

Obama’s at his very best when he’s orating.

He’s at his very worst when it comes to implementing ideas.

This isn’t just about getting a website fixed. It’s about the burden we are putting on young families in tough economic times. Obama himself isn’t even aware of the problems he’s created for the rest of us.

The thing I can’t quit figure out is how a democracy allowed itself to be derailed by administrations like Obama and Bush, time and time again.

We are the nation of a government by the people, for the people, are we not? As I continually ask my students in First Amendment class, what injustice will cause you to set yourself aflame?

When are we going to demand better leadership from our elected officials?

What’s the point of a democracy if we just resign ourselves to being oppressed?




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  • I am glad you see this isn’t about a non-functioning website. I think where you and I will disagree is in the idea that it was ever the role of government to provide healthcare for individuals in the first place. That aside, I am glad you wrote this. If a Bush-voting, Fox-news-watching, gun-toting, tea-sipper had blogged this, it would have been dismissed by all but those wearing “Palin in 2016!” t-shirts. That it comes from you means you aren’t preaching to the choir. So thanks.

  • AFRoger

    Yes, it is a failure of leadership, one that goes far beyond the White House. During the months that the “Affordable Care Act” was being cooked up in Sen. Max Baucus’ Senate Finance Committee, I wrote to the Senator and his entire committee, as well as the entire Oregon delegation to Congress several times. I asked them to abandon their efforts and start over. As I saw it, it wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get things right. It was a once-in-a-nation’s-history opportunity, and we were missing it. Badly.
    Journalist T.R. Reid researched (and lived under) health care systems around the world. He published a book, went on tour. But before the tour, he had sat in the room with the entire Senate Finance Committee and presented his findings. According to Reid, there was general concurrence that we could indeed take the best of systems with known track records of cost and outcomes and put together a top of the line system here. Then reality set in. Doing the right thing, the better thing, would likely cause campaign dollars to go elsewhere or dry up. For-profit providers, insurers and big pharma don’t want any decrease in incomes, just as households don’t. Any big shuffle of one out of every five or six dollars in the economy would not go unnnoticed on Wall Street or Main Street. Not a good prospect.
    Yet neither was the prospect of doing nothing when the rise of health care and health insurance costs was rapidly outpacing wages and just about everything else save, perhaps, college tuition increases. Neither party has realistically proposed a plan that would REDUCE health care costs. The second- or third-tier goal was to “bend down the cost curve.” Right. However, when earnings are static or falling, even slowing the growth of health care costs is not salvation. It’s the choice between drowning 20 feet under water vs. 30 feet.
    Our democracy today is utterly strangled by money that drowns us in advertising rather than providing us with realistic policy choices. In today’s connected world, the entire planet could know overnight what a candidate thinks and will commit to do on a vast array of issues–at almost no cost at all. So why does it take years and billions in spending to grind through a campaign and election cycle? What is the high quality outcome of all that spending? What we have now.
    Two things we need: 1) an end to most of the money in politics. 2) A comprehensive battery of personality and psychological tests for candidates seeking high office with results published to the electorate. Private sector employers need to know this about prospective employees. So do all the spy agencies and law enforcement agencies out there. Even churches need to know this about their pastors and ministry candidates. So why not the people in charge of the whole shebang who make decisions about peace and war, life and death, and where all our dollars go?
    We won’t get this until we non-stop demand it. This message is going to my members of Congress today.

    • The last thing Obamacare is providing is affordable health care. Yes, we could do it right, do it better but doing so, as you’ve so aptly noted, would require a different set of priorities. Perhaps the problem isn’t the cost of health care for all but the competing values between democracy and capitalism.

      • AFRoger

        First, our priority must be health, not health care. Without health, or succumbing to ill health, not much else happens. I could have a stroke or aneurism, be diagnosed with cancer before Christmas. Or next year, the Parkinson’s disease that has multiple manifestations on both sides of my family tree could rear its ugly head. And in our system, those would be events that the system would seek to “monetize” and make a profit on. And we think that’s noble and good? Why not grind up my body and make burgers out of it? Sell it as Bigfoot Bacon, or something else exotic, for $60 per pound? Might as well send in the cannibals or the sharks.
        It plumb dumbfounds me when good Christian friends get all contorted and angry over the notion that health care is a human right. (Ironically, they are usually “right to life” people!) Who gave them their “right” to have air to breathe, water that’s safe to drink, food that sustains them, soil in which healthy food grows? Did they prepay all of those things by earning them in some parallel universe before they were born?
        If everybody needs health, and if health is better for life, for the economy, for the planet and the kingdom of God, then how can health CARE be anything but a public utility constantly driven to provide the best outcomes at the lowest cost for ALL–because we demand that it work this way? Don’t our supposed “Christian nation” values actually value life and healing and wholeness? Or do we really worship money above all, at any cost, at any price–including life itself?
        Are we moral, rational people; or are we a bunch of brittle ideologues like the ones Amos was called to speak to?

  • RustbeltRick

    The notion that we are “entrusting healthcare to the government” is odd, and wrong. First, the government will not be running hospitals; Mayo and Johns Hopkins and the Cleveland Clinic are just as much in charge of their operations as they ever have been. Second, the government is not running insurance. I am still compelled to buy private insurance if I want my family to be covered. Although I would like to have a public option, conservatives in Congress killed that one. Third, we’re coming off 50 or so years of entrusting healthcare to for-profit insurers, and that system has been disastrous. The fact that you are blaming Obama for a half century of immoral corporate tinkering with the nation’s health shows that you completely lack perspective and facts.

    If you pine so much for corporate control of healthcare — and the abysmal reality of pre-existing conditions and “rescission” that caused untold heartache, and which have been eliminated thanks to Obamacare — then you should have voted for Romney. The idea that you voted twice for Obama, and then you run this bloggy hate piece about him, makes you look foolish.

    • Just because you disagree with my position does not make this a “bloggy hate piece.”
      I think you aptly sum it up when you state: “I am still compelled to buy private insurance…”
      Compelled = Mandated by law.

      • RustbeltRick

        These letters about cancelled policies are nothing new. But by all means, when the insurance companies ruin your life, health and finances, blame Obama for it. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wendell-potter/the-real-reasons-insurers_b_4296212.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

        • RR: Obama himself has indicated that he is responsible. So I’m not putting anything on him that he hasn’t admittedly failed at. If you are going to overhaul a program, then make sure when you overhaul it that you are replacing it with a better program… otherwise what’s the point. In the state where I live, Oregon’s insurance commissioner has said that people can maintain their current coverage for at least another year. In the state where I teach, Washington, the commissioner has said no way. Can’t be done. I don’t think young families who see their policies double as “affordable health care.” But then perhaps you have a different definition of “Affordable.”

          • RustbeltRick

            Obama admitted responsbility for his sloppy statements. He didn’t admit responsibility for the stunts pulled by insurers (nor should he). The difficulties being faced by many people are part of a deliberate strategy by insurers to steer people toward higher cost plans, and away from the exchanges where they just might find better options. Again, people are being knifed in the back by Big Insurance, and they’re blaming the one guy who dared regulate Big Insurance. It wouldn’t be the first time that this country has been victimized by Big Business and then promptly blamed the government (and screaming about oppression and freedom and apple pie).

  • D.E.

    I wasn’t happy with Bush, but I think we would be better with Romney now. Obamacare is a disaster, and it’s just one of many perpetrated by Obama. The IRS spying on us? Benghazi? Fast and Furious? Exactly how many scandals and disastrous policies will it take before we impeach this guy??

    • He isn’t going to be impeached. Impeachment is a waste. But Bush had his own set of disasters, Iraq being at the top of that list.

  • D

    So the real problem that you have with Obama is that he acts too much like a republican. I agree.

    • I agree that once elected to office, they all pretty much act the same – Democrats & Republicans. Ill-behaved.

  • jl

    You suggest we are rich enough to cover everyone, then complain because someone in your family has to pay more. That’s always the problem – someone had to pay more, and you say, yep – just not anyone in my family. So who, then? The typical answer is “Someone richer than us.”

    • No, not someone richer than ‘us’. But I don’t think the “burden” ought to fall upon young families. I think it’s a matter — as I stated above – in priorities. We could fund the entire health care system on the waste we’ve spent on botched DOD contracts alone.

  • RobS

    My family of five is seeing this as well. Median income in our county is ~$95k outside Washington, DC and we’re below that, so hardly living high on the hog. We too, have a plan selected with the help of our insurance broker to meet our needs well established. Now, the costs going up ~$200/month will surely put an impact on our budget (which yes, we have one). This really means less money for future college education for our kids.

    We’re not crazy either — our last two vacations cost ~$400 each, and our cell phone bills total ~$35/month. But when you’re watching what you have and a forced dollar amount is pushed on you it hurts your future and what you can do.

  • djine

    people vote for the person only (broadcasters follow one person only or big boss will make it hard on you) . we only hear what the news want us to hear, they say one thing , but say another next.

  • RustbeltRick

    My healh insurance premiums doubled — back in 1992. The suggestion that health insurance just got weird in the last few months is ridiculous. If you think the insurers haven’t had your life by a string for decades, you’ve either never been sick, you have zero memories of life prior to 2010, or you’re not being honest (and taking potshots at Obama, because that’s easier than holding Blue Cross and Aetna accountable). For people screaming about “oppression”, what kind of freedom was it when Humana or Kaiser could deny your cancer treatments with no accountability? Tell me again how the free market worked its health insurance magic in the good old days; I need a good story today.

    • RustbeltRick: Where exactly do I suggest that health insurance just got weird? And I’m not taking potshots at Obama. As he himself as admitted: “This is on me.”