Let me just start this post with a simple statement: I AM PISSED OFF! Two things have made me incredibly mad in the past few days. The first thing was that on Monday, I helped a lady register with healthcare.gov (in Alabama, we have to use the government's website because our governor would not allow the state's insurance commission to activate the website they had been designing which would have made it easier to sign up for insurance). And the second is Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson's ignorant and unchristian comments in GQ magazines about homosexuality. The former is the subject of today's post. I will deal with Mr. Robertson when my blood stops boiling, and I can write rationally on the subject.
Last week, I signed up for health insurance through healthcare.gov. I have not had health insurance in a year because my insurance company nearly doubled my premiums last year, and I could no longer afford it. I work for a small private school, which offers no benefits and a meager salary, so I had no choice but to let my insurance lapse. With the tax credit that I am qualified for, my insurance premium was cut in half by signing up through healthcare.gov. I also have to tell you that I am constantly surrounded by Republicans who hate anything associated with President Obama. I have heard many nasty and untrue remarks about the Affordable Care Act such as:
"The blacks are all for Obamacare because it's something else free from Obama.""All Obamacare will do is raise our premiums.""The insurance companies are raising rates because they are forced to by the government.""I don't like the government telling me what I have to do."
The list of remarks go on and on. I have consistently said that it would save most of us money. When the government shutdown occurred, I did a massive amount of research on the affordable Care Act, so that I could explain it to my students and answer their questions about the government shutdown. When the website officially opened, I did try to go ahead and sign up; however, there were numerous glitches. Obama told Americans that it would be fixed by November 30, so I waited. All websites and software have problems when initially launched, that's why updates are created. If you have an Apple or Microsoft product, you will constantly have updates to be downloaded and installed. If you run a blog, there will be issues from time to time. It's the nature of technology; none of it is perfect.
When I did go to healthcare.gov to sign up, it was incredibly easy. A few clicks and 30 minutes later I had the same insurance (actually slightly better) than I had before, and with the same company at nearly half he price I had been paying. I could have taken a cheaper plan, but the deductible was so high that it was not worth having the insurance. Since I know a fair number of people who are nearly completely computer illiterate, I have helped two other people navigate the website. Mainly because they have no idea even how to use a mouse. I read each question and typed in the answers for them. For both of them, the registration process was easy.
What makes me angry though is that one of them is an older black lady who works at the school. A gentle and kind-hearted woman who has very little education because the segregated school systems of her youth in Alabama failed her. She works very hard to support herself and her daughter with no government assistance of any kind and an even more meager salary than I have. One of the provisions that many people have complained about with the Affordable Care Act is that the poor, those that make under about $17,000 a year will get free health insurance through Medicaid. They complain that everyone who has insurance will be paying for them to have insurance. This has been a particular point for Alabama Republicans who want to get rid of all entitlement programs that assist the poor, especially entitlement programs that assist the poverty stricken African-American population of Alabama.
The woman I was helping register was far below the $17,000 mark and should have qualified for Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act. However, there was a problem. Alabama's Governor Robert Bentley (who's a doctor by the way, albeit a dermatologist) refused to expand Medicaid in Alabama. Therefore, if this poor woman wants insurance, she will be forced to pay nearly four times what I will be paying for a monthly premium. It angers me to no end that people will complain about who's getting what for free, yet they have no idea what they are talking about. This woman works very hard for little pay to take care of a bunch of spoiled rotten little white kids (and thankfully their appreciative teachers) to be told sorry, we won't help you because we are afraid you might get something that we don't or that we might have to pay for you to have a little better quality to your life. In America, we far too often don't care about the poor.
Her saving grace, though, is two-fold. One, because Alabama refused to expand Medicaid, she is exempt from having to meet the insurance requirement of the Affordable Care Act, meaning she won't have to pay the penalty (or tax, as the U.S. Supreme Court declared it) for not having insurance. Two, we are fortunate in this part of Alabama to have a healthcare company that caters to the uninsured and under-insured, so she can still see these doctors for treatment. Truthfully, they have some of the best healthcare professionals in the area. I even use their clinics because of the superior health and dental care they provide. They have wonderful social workers who work with people to get them the medical attention that they are unable to provide, and they work tirelessly to gain grants for community health to keep the cost of healthcare to a minimum at their clinics, they are not perfect in many ways, they have some major problems with their administration; however, it does not affect the quality of healthcare provided.
By the way, while we are discussing the Affordable Care Act, I saw this on the blog Queer Landia about healthcare for America's LGBT:
Out2Enroll is a coalition of organizations who want to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people stay healthy by making sure that one of the major benefits of the Affordable Care Act — access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance coverage — reaches LGBT communities. Get Enrolled is a holiday parody, produced by our friends at Full Frontal Freedom, which aims to bring awareness to the final week of health marketplace enrollment. For more information, go to http://www.out2enroll.org.
So I encourage you, if you have not done so and don't have health insurance, go sign up at healthcare.gov. It's not as bad as everyone has reported. I have been through the process three times with myself and two others, and it is a very smooth process. I know that some of my readers are not Obama supporters; however, I do not believe that the Affordable Care Act is the end of the world. It is not what I would have done to fix America's healthcare problems, but it's what Congress passed. I would have preferred that the government take on the rising cost of healthcare in other ways, particularly by not allowing doctors to charge patients without insurance more than the insurance companies pay for those who have insurance.
That is all. That is my rant for today. Be prepared for another one tomorrow. I promise though that I will more than make up for my two days of rants with my Moment of Zen on Saturday.