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General News    H3'ed 4/1/14

Obama Care, Thanks But No Thanks

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The Affordable Care Act deadline has finally come around. I am one of the millions of Americans who hasn't signed up. If it were entitled the Affordable Insurance Act it would at least bear an honest name. And as laudable as it may be to make health insurance more affordable, it has very little to do with health care. 

The health insurance industry sucks billions of "health care" dollars from Americans without providing a single service that is health restorative in any sense. If anything, insurance costs, hassles and inadequacies should only be seen as exacerbating factors in dealing with problems of bad health. These billions of dollars, if not being used to generate profits as well as administering parameters and limits to health care, could be available to pay for the care itself. Some of it could stay in our pockets. 

People claim that this arcane insurance gateway to health care system stems from our mistrust in government and our love for free enterprise. No matter that in one industrialized country after another, single payer health care systems are successfully taking care of peoples' health at a much lower cost than we pay in America. Our history is a free-for-all of healers of all stripes advertising their cures. While medical practices have ranged wildly over the spectrum, they shared one common quality; whether a quack or a surgeon, medical practitioners have mostly operated for profit. As a result many a poor American has perished from not being able to afford medical treatment. Instead of stepping in as a polis and understanding that a healthy life for everyone is necessary for a nation to thrive, we allowed the free enterprise system to intrude instead, creating a for-profit labyrinth of bureaucracies that served a majority of the public, (good enough for private contractor work) while leaving a large minority without adequate access to health care.

Even if the subsidies in the ACA offered me a chance to enroll relatively cheaply, I wouldn't do so any more than I would spend medium amounts of money on anything that I didn't like or didn't believe in.

Call me old fashioned, but I'm also not willing to sally forth to VermontHealthConnect and give some website contractor all of the personal data that is required to determine eligibility for the ACA. When a government or industry spokesperson assures us the latest data breach probably won't do any harm, it rings with the same false bravado that accompanies every declaration about "safe" radiation leaks that pose no threat to public health. I don't bank or manage any of my affairs on line. I rarely purchase anything on line and I don't share personal information medical or otherwise with anyone online. As I get by well enough without these internet services, I'm less inclined to be sanguine about the possible cost of a hack attack or the loss of private data.

Is there a risk to living without insurance? Of course there is. Even though the odds are in my favor (that's were those insurance profits come from) and I've made it this far, an accident or sickness could leave me with an enormous bill to pay. At that point, I'd be making monthly payments just like I would for insurance, but it would be paying for a service (even if an over-priced one.)

I am waiting instead for single payer health care to come to Vermont as planned by 2017. Some assert that IT problems with Vermont Health Connect are a harbinger of the disaster that single payer will surely be. But the current website and it's problems should not bear have much bearing on Vermont's eventual single payer system. We are already connected for single payer in that the state has already figured out how to reach us each year with a tax form. I'm happy to let the legislature and the governor hash out what taxes will need to be raised to pay for providing health care in the state. And I'll welcome the inevitable rise in taxes that I will face. Since I'm don't pay for health insurance coverage, I will see an increase in taxes without a commensurate decrease in insurance premium rates. But as much I am adamant in refusing to pay insurance premiums, I will have no problem in paying a hefty tax rise knowing that the money is paying for actual health care for all Vermonters. I have a debt to society in being part of it. I have no interest in being indebted to insurance corporations.

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Dan Dewalt is a musician/woodworker/teacher who authored the Newfane impeachment resolution passed at March 2006 town meetings.
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