Thursday, January 12, 2012

I am Obamacare! But not for the reason you think.

A photograph has recently appeared on Facebook and other web sites.  Using the format popularized during the Occupy movement, a woman reports how her life was saved by Obamacare:

Oddly enough, this woman truly is a poster child for Obamacare.  It turns out she has written a blog for many years, so it's possible to expand beyond this hand written poster to see the real situation.  See the blog at

Let's look at her situation prior to her illness based on her blog:
  • She is a 34 year old individual who does not have health insurance through her employer.
  • She never purchased health insurance as an individual.
  • She lives with her boyfriend (now fiance), who has health insurance but did not add her to his coverage (most companies will allow an unmarried partner to be on health insurance, I even know one person who has her sister on her company insurance).
  • She has a number of health issues, but it isn't if / when she last went to a doctor.
  • From her own descriptions of various activities and expenses, she is not high income, but not poor.  She willingly takes her cat to the vet, and probably pays for auto insurance.
  • From her description of looking for insurance, I'd guess she never tried to purchase health insurance.
So here is an individual without insurance.  For around $200 a month she could have had health insurance (most cheaply through her boyfriend's employer), but she did not choose to do so.

So in May, 2011 she goes to the emergency room in pain and is diagnosed with tumors requiring surgery.  Suddenly she's looking for health insurance.  She finds it in the PCIP (preexisting condition insurance program) that the government has setup.  Interestingly, in her blog post when she's gotten the insurance she details her pre-insurance bills and computes the cost of her surgery including an assumption of 4 months of insurance premiums.

So here is an individual who will not purchase health insurance, can probably afford it (with difficulty, but it's a matter of proirity).  When she has high medical bills she finds a way to get insurance (so somebody else pays most of her costs) and apparently plans to drop the insurance after a few months when she's recovered.

How is this Obamacare?  Over the last 50 years people have been told to do things for their own good, not done the smart thing, and then had the government force them to do so.  Thus automobile insurance is mandatory in (almost?) all states because people would drive without insurance, hoping they won't be in an accident.  People have been told for years they need health insurance, however many people won't purchase health insurance, assuming they will be healthy.

So here is the real reason for Obamacare -- to force the people who won't buy insurance to do so.

Yes, I know there are lot of things messed up in the US health care system and that the new health law does a lot of other things, but the essential change boils down to the government deciding that all people need health insurance and forcing them to buy it.

And while the woman in the picture above might be thinking of dropping her health insurance again, we can rest assured that in a couple years she will be forced to buy insurance again whether she wants to or not.

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