I am writing as one of the 45 million Americans who do not have health coverage. Knowing the Outer Banks, I'll bet a lot of people reading this are on that list as well. No matter how well things are going at your job or with your business, this is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. That strange pain in your back that doesn't go away or that tickle in your throat may be simply a nuisance. Then again, it may be the start of a health care odyssey that threatens your very way of life and the retirement you dream of or the college savings for that special kid that has worked so hard to keep her grades up.
I had a heart attack that has made me ineligible for most private plans, and the ones at work will not cover any heart-related issues for a year. My medications and visits to the doctor to keep my prescriptions current are not covered, and as a result my prevention tools are severely limited by a system that has determined I am a liability. In this system, I am a form of currency, and so are you. Don't doubt it. Like stocks, some are more valuable than others. I am a highly tradable stock. I have been liquidated before and now essentially find myself optioned, waiting to see how things work out before the insurance companies decide to buy.
Why do you need to know this? Because my story is your story, and if it's not, then it is the story of someone you know and care about. Or perhaps it's just not your story yet. An election looms ahead that has become a comedy of tripe, but beneath all the carnival barkers and childish name-calling, issues lurk, issues that will affect our lives. We might want to talk about them now and again.
When I left one company and went to another, I had a 90-day wait before I was eligible for my new benefits. During that time, I was given the option of paying my insurance with my former company under COBRA. The problem was, my premium went up to nearly $500 for just myself, which I could not afford. Since I had not maintained my insurance, when I became eligible my pre-existing conditions were not covered. That situation is what John McCain brags about achieving for me on his website:"John McCain Supported The Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act In 1996 That Took The Important Step Of Providing Some Protection Against Exclusion Of Pre-Existing Conditions." From JohnMcCain.com
Barack Obama has a different vision for my coverage. His is a plan that would allow actual portability between jobs, not leaving me exposed. This is a real issue that deserves some of your time. JohnMcCain.com. BarackObama.com.
You have enough time to read the paper and catch up on how our kids did in spelling bees and football games. Take the time to find out how you will treat them if the unthinkable should happen to them. Don't say that no one is talking specifics. They are. If health care is an issue in your home, find out who is sympathetic to the self-employed and small business, the lower income folks who can't pay the premiums, who is going to fight for your care and not make it dependent on governors and other layers of government beyond the federal level so that someone else can be blamed when nothing gets done.
Barack Obama has taken a "the buck stops here" approach to health care. Forty-five million people are depending on someone to right the health care ship, and he has a plan to stop the marginalization of that 15% of our population who are currently not considered valuable enough to be helped when they are hurting. I encourage you to compare the plans available. I make no apologies. I am an Obama supporter. I hope you will be, too, but if you're not, make it for a good reason, like health care. It matters a whole lot more than if McCain thinks there is a border between Iraq and Pakistan or that Obama did a "fist bump" with his wife.
Get in the game and make a real choice.