Firstly, can I just start out by saying this–I hate the term “ObamaCare.” It makes me angry. I realize that the president has kind of embraced the term, but that word just carries with it so much partisan emotion…. I believe it does a disservice to what is trying to be accomplished with the Affordable Care Act. Imagine if “The Patriot Act” was referred to as “The BushWhacking of Our Civil Liberties.” It probably wouldn’t have been nearly as popular…. Oh well. It doesn’t look like the term is going anywhere soon.
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t have a very good idea of how the Affordable Care Act is going to affect you. When I went back to work this year (I work on a school schedule), I sat through a seminar that was meant to inform us of how the ACA was going change health care for us in the upcoming year. I have grown to DREAD these start-of-the-year healthcare meetings. My day job covers most of the health insurance costs for their employees, but if you want to cover your spouse, your kids, or (like me) your spouse and kids, you are going to be paying quite a bit. Each year, it seems like the costs of premiums and co-pays go up while the coverage goes down, and it always gives me this frustrated, numb, powerless stomach ache.
This year was the first time that I have come away from one of those meetings with a smile on my face. I learned a bit about how the ACA is going to work to make health care more affordable for the VAST MAJORITY of American citizens, and I want to share some of what I learned with you…. But before I do that, we have to get a few things straight.
So I guess I am poor or whatever…. That’s really not an easy thing for me to say. It makes me feel kind of guilty to say it, actually—Partially because there are so many people in this country that are so much worse off than me, partially because I have at least a small understanding of how rich I am compared to vast majority of the world, and partially because usually I feel genuinely blessed. I mean, really—Can someone who is waiting for the iPhone 5s to come out instead of buying the iPhone 5 really be considered “poor?” But yeah, it turns out that for a family of five, we don’t have a lot of money. If we were the sort of people who allowed our kids to eat crappy school lunches, we would be able to pay for them at a discounted rate. But we aren’t that sort of people. We are the sort of people who buy organic food and pack our kids’ lunches. So I guess we’re not THAT poor. Poor people don’t buy organic food….
So, yeah…. I don’t feel poor all the time, but there are times when I do. I have two jobs and three kids. My wife is self-employed and has asthma, so she and the kids need to be on my insurance, and that costs us about $12,000/year. And that’s before co-pays and co-insurance and prescriptions and such. Sure, it would be nice to be in the sort of situation where our minivan failing an emissions test didn’t make me break out in stress sweats trying to figure out how we are going to pay for the repairs, but I mean, come on…. We have two cars—Some people have to take the bus. And sure, a huge portion of our household income goes toward insurance, but at least we are covered–A lot of people might lose their house if they got really hurt. But here’s the thing: Just because you feel blessed doesn’t mean you’re not poor.
And this is who the ACA is attempting to help–Poor people. People like me, and probably you, who feel like spending more and more of your income on healthcare is your only option. The ACA is not trying to help rich people get health care–They already have amazing health care coverage. Good grief, they even have special investments that only the super rich are allowed to take part in that almost always bring huge returns. Rich people don’t need help, but poor people do. Unfortunately, nobody really likes to consider themselves “poor.” There is this natural American distain for poor people, for people who need help, for moochers…. All while keeping this weird reverence for the rich. Everyone wants to call themselves “Middle Class,” but an actual middle class doesn’t really exist anymore. There are a few rich people, and a whole lot of poor people. I think the greatest trick ever played on poor people is convincing them that they are “Middle Class.”
I’m going to post a video right here, and I am BEGGING YOU to watch it. I know (from past experience with my blog stats) that most of you won’t, but please–It’s important. It’s about six minutes, and before I can go into how cool it is that the ACA helps poor people, we need to have a good understanding of how wealth is divided up in this country. The US has the worst income inequality of all developed nations. This video will stun you:
The existence of this video and the truths it contains SHOULD scare the hell out of 1% of the people in this country who possess almost 40% of the wealth in the United States. But they’re not scared. Do you know why? Because they know that six minutes is WAY too long for most people in this country to spend watching a video. There are some really big problems in this country, and, as is often the case, big problems are not easily understood. They are complex, and they cannot be simplified into easy answers like, “It’s the Republicans’ fault” or “This is because of all the liberals” or “Thanks a lot, Obama.” As has always been the case, the great struggle in this world is not one between Black & White or Christian & Muslim or even Conservative & Liberal…. It is, and it has always been, between Rich & Poor.
Please stay tuned (in my next post) for some good news about how ObamaCare is going to help me, and probably you. And if you are interested in knowing more about the problems brought on by wealth inequality, below is a short TED Talk by Nick Hanauer (it’s about 6 minutes as well) that is fantastic. And lastly, if you were amazed or angered by the above video, please share it it with someone else. The last thing the people with all the wealth and power want is a bunch of well-educated poor people.