I used to run a lot. And I used to be fast. No, really, I was!
I still run when the weather’s decent, and I’m not slow . . . but let’s just say I’m definitely in decline.
And I can pinpoint the moment my decline started. It was 8 years ago, and I was a 27 year old graduate student at the University of Iowa sitting amidst a pile of paperwork on the floor finishing some research for school (the floor is often my preferred place to conduct research, to the consternation of my wife) when I decided to quickly stand up. I did, awkwardly, and felt my right knee pop.
I’ve never quite been the same. Though I’ve continued to run and do other things, I can’t go as far as often or with the reckless abandon I used to.
It’s all part of getting old, I suppose. I just never expected it would happen so suddenly. Sigh . . . .
But, turning back to the task at hand (aren’t you wondering what that is!) . . . this last week I reaggravated my old knee injury, and it’s the worst it’s ever been. It’s difficult to walk on it. With rest, ice , and Ibuprofen I’m sure things will improve, but I think I’ll probably need surgery before I can return to much (if any) serious physical activity.
There’s just one problem — I’m uninsured. Have been for the last 2 years.
My family’s uninsured. Has been for the last 2 years.
In April 2011, I voluntarily left a good paying job at a Salt Lake City law firm that treated me well to strike out on my own in the middle of a recession. I didn’t have a single client. I didn’t have health insurance. I had no idea what I was doing when it came to marketing or running a business (two years later, I have some vague ideas . . .). I had some savings and food storage. I had five young children and an amazing and patient wife.
View it as a leap of faith or abject stupidity. Personally, I alternate between the two.
Things started out very rough, but have gradually gotten better. My financial situation is improving — though we’re still struggling month to month and are far away from the point where we can afford health insurance. Even high deductible plans would place an extraordinary strain on our meager resources. And HSAs? Nice idea, but for me right now, ha ha ha ha ha . . . .
We’ve been lucky so far. We’ve avoided the emergency room and surgery–thanks in no small part to an extraordinary wife who has successfully treated numerous injuries and maladies at home — everything from small magnetic balls stuck far up a child’s nose to numerous severe lacerations and eye trouble — when I was ready to head to the clinic or hospital.
Believe me, I don’t like walking the no-insurance tightrope. But it is where I am right now.
I hope it’s not where I am a year from now. Because in 2014, I — and many others like me — will have to purchase health insurance, like it or not.
It won’t be cheap.
And there are a lot of people who aren’t going to be happy about it. The predictable result of Obamacare’s forced consumption will be premiums rising at an even greater pace than now, if you can conceive of that. People will struggle to keep up and won’t be happy. If my firm continues to do better, I’ll be buying insurance. If not, I (and many like me) will be forced on to Medicaid or penalized at tax time.
President Obama and the Democrats know this. And they’re counting on it. They’ll want to parlay the frustration and discontentment over Obamacare 1.0 into Obamacare 2.0: National Health. It’s been the plan from the day it became clear that, even in the dark recessionary days of 2009 and 2010, national health was a political non-starter. The one-step program became a two-step program.
There’s nothing nefarious about it — though I personally don’t particularly like it — it’s normal political strategy motivated by a sincere desire to solve this country’s health insurance problem.
And let me tell you, folks, Obamacare 2.0: National Health is where we’re going unless someone is able to provide an workable, alternative plan for healthcare. In fact, if no one can provide and stand up for a serious alternative vision — if all we’re left with is the choice between Pre-Obamacare 2009, Obamacare 1.0, and Obamacare 2.0: National Health . . . it should be national health. Shocking? Well, it’s true.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s not the choice we have to make, and it’s not the choice we should be making.
There are other choices out there in need of a champion.
GOP: I’m talking to you.
You have one last chance to avoid national health. You’ve already wasted 3 years trying to get rid of Obamacare via lawsuit without having a replacement plan other than “the market.” Now, the window to avoid national health is 2013-2016, and may not even be that long.
To borrow a phrase from our President: ”Let me be clear” — If you don’t present a workable (compelling would be nice) alternate vision for healthcare in this country before the next Presidential election . . . hello true socialized medicine. And don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone??!!
What would a workable alternative vision look like?
First and foremost, it would solve the problem of access created by out of control costs. It would be comprehensive. It would include serious tort reform. It would eliminate insurance company abuse of preexisting conditions. It might rethink the whole concept of insurance versus prepaid medical care. But it would deal with rising costs. It would maintain flexibility. It might continue to rely heavily on health benefits provided by employers, or it might take a different approach. But it would prevent skyrocketing costs. Did I mention that it would be laser-focused on controlling costs?
Because, say it with me folks: The problem of access is a problem of cost. The problem of access is a problem of cost. The problem of . . . .
That’s your challenge, should you choose to accept it.
There are lots of good ideas out there. Put them together into a workable plan and evangelize!
President Obama’s not the only one who can capitalize on the frustration about to be created by Obamacare 1.0. You can, too. And even if we ultimately end up at a variant of national health, the country will be better off for having been given a real choice.
Stop whining, get wonking, and then start selling!