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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Where is outrage over 50 million without health care in this country?

Peg Maggin
Peg Maggin
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 12:01 am
What has happened to the concept of “common good”? Where is the “We” of “We the People of the United States”? Sadly, neither can be found in the heated rhetoric surrounding the Affordable Care Act.You ask, “Why would a single 60-year-old man voluntarily buy maternity coverage or dental and vision coverage for children he will never have?”

I ask, “Why should insurance companies be able to pick which people and what kind of health care they will cover?” For if we are to pay only for the health care services we will need, then why shouldn’t I be offered a discounted policy that eliminates coverage for bariatric surgery or all other treatments or complications related to obesity (I am thin) — or one that excludes treatment of any medical conditions involving the prostate, penis or testicles? (I am female, and so lack these anatomical parts).

I fail to see why women’s reproductive health care is consistently singled out as a separate “option.”

I am one of the people frequently discussed by the voices within the media these days (I reserve the label “journalist” for the ever-dwindling minority of reporters who engage in investigative, factual reporting).

As a self-employed professional, I have had to purchase private health insurance over the years. I would like to share my story.

First, my medically relevant statistics: 61-year-old female; normal blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol; no regular prescription medications; nonsmoker; no illicit drug use; trim and very active (enjoys hiking, biking and other sports, as well as ballroom dancing, and completes a structured exercise program daily).

Sound good? I thought so, too. However, it took persistent pressure from me and my family physician for me to finally get health insurance after being rejected initially. Why? Because I have the misfortune of having the chronic disease called osteoarthritis, a medical condition pervasive in my family.

Thanks primarily to the efforts of the late Dr. Dan Tritch, since 2006 I have had a high deductible medical policy (without vision or dental coverage), which must be renewed annually. My premiums have increased substantially each year (going up by anywhere from 9 to 28 percent), so I find it quite disingenuous for insurance company executives and others to blame the ACA for any increases this year.

And the increased premiums I paid in past years did not provide me with any additional benefits. That has just changed. Thanks to the aptly named Affordable Care Act, I no longer have to fear that my coverage will be dropped if my arthritis worsens or if I develop other health problems. In addition, I will now get free preventtive care and do not have any yearly or lifetime dollar limits.

And insurance companies will now have to account for increases in premium rates. That’s surely one of the reasons why many of us were pressured by our insurance company to sign up for our new policy by Nov. 1. And the marketing and manipulation of these insurance products is to be expected in this free market system. Keep in mind that for all the current complaints, ACA is the kind of insurance system advocated by Republicans in the past, and what then-Gov. Mitt Romney implemented in Massachusetts.

So I am thrilled that at long last there are standards of coverage all insurance companies are required to follow. And I’m very glad those standards include women’s reproductive health care as well as children’s dental and vision coverage, because having healthy young women and children is important for the good of our society as a whole. If insurance products are to be sold in an open market, as is the case with the ACA, then the pricing of such should reflect the cost of serving all of the citizens of this country.

Yes, there are problems with the government’s health care website, which are being addressed. And yes, a relatively small group of people like me will experience inconvenience over the next few months as we get our private policies straightened out. And yes, President Obama was wrong when he said that everyone could keep their current plan (although those affected will be able to get more comprehensive plans, and often at lower cost).

But really, is repetitively savoring a “gotcha” moment with regard to the president’s error the best that the (primarily Republican) opposition has to offer? And these same people – who did virtually everything possible to sabotage the ACA – now righteously complain about the program’s flaws! They would do well instead to heed the advice I received as a child from my mother. That is, “Always try to do your part to make things better rather than complain.”

And where is the indignant outrage over the fact that we have an estimated 50 million people without health care in this country? Why are we not appalled that by most health care measures, such as life expectancy and infant mortality, the United States is lagging behind other industrialized nations? Again, where is the concern for the “common good”?

It is time for “We the People of the United States” to reject simplistic, nonproductive name-calling and relentless criticism and insist that our elected officials work cooperatively to come up with constructive, positive ideas to solve our nation’s complex problems.

And it is time for “We the People of the United States” to hold the media accountable for the accuracy and depth of information presented as news.

Armchair quarterbacking is not governing, and parroting sensational sound bites is not reporting. Indeed, it is time for each citizen to engage thoughtfully and work together for the good of all, as was so eloquently expressed in the beginning of the United States Constitution.


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