Yet again, driving along, listening to public radio. They are in the middle of their spring fund drive so my mind was kind of in float mode. Not paying all that much attention. As they are saying their sponsorships for Morning Edition I hear “the Aetna Foundation, dedicated to health, well-being and accessible health care”. I almost choked. I have a job. Through that job I have health insurance. I have had Aetna, for better or for worse, for six years. Each year my benefits have gotten a little worse and a little more expensive. For example I have never had a real deductible since I was in an open access HMO. This past year they ditched that and added a three thousand dollar deductible but it was waived for preventive and emergency room. Ok, I can live with that. It was just announced at my company that they could no longer offer Aetna because the plan premiums had been increased by 44%! Accessible healthcare my ass. So I will have to switch everything to United Health Care, where my drugs will cost more and my deductible will be five thousand dollars. Although this is waived for preventive care, it is not waived for the emergency room so our first visit this year will cost up to five thousand dollars! And if I am admitted, there is a very special extra deductible of five hundred on top of that. And then twenty percent of the bill on top of that. Don’t worry, unless I am dying so my life insurance will pay the bill, I won’t be going to the hospital any time soon. But I am grateful to have the insurance at all. Sickening that Aetna has a foundation for tax exemptions that markets them as a caring company. Forty Four Percent! Unaffordable for any but the wealthiest of us.
I get it, I get it. Health care reform is important to everyone and nobody understands it. What strikes me however, is the level of hysteria reflected in the debates. Everyone in the House of Representatives spoke as if the world would stop turning if… whichever outcome you didn’t agree with. Although I am a dyed in the wool lefty, I agree with Boehner on one thing, it seems unlikely that anyone has read all the of the pending bills and the amendments that accomnpany them. What I saw was democracy in action, and government run amok, all in the same room. Seeing a democratically elected majority pass landmark legislation that was part of their campaign promises was a good thing. Seeing legislators hurl epithets and generally act like animals with no manners was not. It is not okay to express you beliefs in such a way that you lie to and generally scare the crap out of most ordinary Americans. We have lost the ability, it appears, to hold a civil debate. I find it most disturbing that the Republicans appear to have decided that no matter what they believe in, they will just vote no. In some ways I thought it was heartening that there were a number of dems that voted against the bill. Our government was built the way it was so that nobody would hold absolute power, that’s a good thing no matter what you believe. Nobody is ever all right or all wrong and none of us have all the answers. Absolute power is the definition of fascism and the world has seen enough of that. Bless those few who seem to be trying to hold a real discussion in the middle of the maelstrom, on either side of the aisle. They are the true legislators; they might actually represent the voters in their district, not just the vocal majority no matter how slight. Whatever you think about the health care reform bills, the truth as always is somewhere in the middle, there is some good, some not so good and the world will not come to an end.