Today marks the 33rd time the Republican-led House of Representatives has voted to rob people of the right to healthcare. Since 2008, the Republican party has gone out of its way to ignore big issues like job creation, the economy and high poverty rates, focusing their attention on being thorns in the side of Obama instead.
The Republicans may have managed to get the vote passed on the House level, but it will be shot down by the Democratic led Senate. If by some strange twilight zone-esque twist, it makes it through the Senate, then the White House has pledged to veto it.
You would think after 32 times and a Supreme Court ruling, they’d get it. Obamacare is here to stay. Apparently, however, raging against the Democrats is far more important than caring about the working class or the unemployed. Rather than deal with the big issues facing Americans today, the Republicans have decided to reenact Groundhog Day over and over again.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care act has the support of the majority of the medical profession including the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The argument is that health insurance for all makes health care easier to obtain and significantly decreases the magnitude of epidemics while increasing community health and saving money.
That’s right. It makes everyone healthier and saves on treatment costs. How? Well, let’s see!
Lower-income families living just above the poverty line and cut off for Medicaid or Medicare eligibility now have the opportunity to go to their doctors for preventative care and at the first sign of illness. This means two things: vaccination against many communicable diseases and treatment of those diseases before they become severe enough to require more expensive treatment such as surgery or hospitalization.
Let’s look at a modern example of this. TB is a highly communicable disease you can get from a sneeze or a cough. It requires immediate treatment to prevent the spread of the disease to other people, and to improve the chances of survival. Treatment involves a quick skin test for diagnosis, then a chest x-ray, and then about six months worth of antibiotics. The skin test costs about $20, the chest x-ray maybe $300, and the antibiotics about $20. Let’s round up to say, $350.
Say you make 125% of the poverty line for a family of four, or $22,350 a year ($1862.50 per month) Without the PPACA, you are considered ineligible for Medicaid. Think of your apartment. Think of the cheapest apartment you have ever lived in. Think about the average cost of a two or three bedroom apartment in a nasty neighborhood. Think of how much money you spend at the grocery store. How are you going to find that $350 for one infected person? And what if all four of you are infected? Now you need to dig up $1400. That is almost a month’s pay. Are you going to risk eviction for not paying rent? What about letting your water and electric bills lapse? Maybe not eating? All of the above?
It is simply unattainable. So you hope and pray that maybe it will go away on its own. But it won’t. It will get worse. It will spread to other members of the community. Suddenly your entire apartment building has TB. Those that have insurance will be treated, but then the insurance company now has to pay for a higher number of insured patients. Eventually, you will get so sick, and so weak, you will end up in the emergency department as your chest cavity fills up with fluid, and you struggle to catch a breath. Assuming you make it just in time, and they manage to treat you, you are now faced with a hospital bill that could cost more than $60,000. Can’t afford it? Guess what, the federal government now has to pay it. You are now in the hospital for a month or longer, so you have probably lost your apartment out of an inability to pay rent. You’ve had your utilities shut off, and your kids are living in a car. Since one untreated patient with TB can infect up to 15 people a year, you’ve now contributed to an expensive epidemic.
Or, that evil nasty Obamacare that our Saviors ™, the Republicans are wasting our money fighting so hard to repeal could allow you to seek treatment before you infect 15 other people, lose your home, your livelihood, and possibly your life. Oh wait, that has already happened – in Florida.