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While We Wait for Single Payer Obamacare Needs to Work

'... a little breathing room to just be human and deal with human needs.'

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Donna Smith, Socialist Worker

Yes, it is true. I want the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare to be successful, and I want single-payer, improved and expanded Medicare for all for life. I can hear it now, and almost predict who will be saying it, "Oh, Donna's a single-payer sell-out. Look, she said she wants the ACA to succeed. Doesn't she get it that it's nothing more than a bail-out to the private insurance industry?"

Yes, I get it. I lived in Washington, D.C., all through the health reform debates and saw what the process did to single-payer activists. I know that the ACA is not where we need to go. I know its failings, and I know in some ways it moves us further away from the "everybody in, nobody out" kind of system we hope to achieve. I know that the health industry basically drafted the bill to be spoon fed through Congress, and I watched and worked the press side of the days when 13 people were arrested in Max Baucus' Senate Finance Committee for wanting single-payer on the table. I know, I know.

Yes, I know. An insurance purchase mandate is not in any way the same as universal health care.

Yet, as I find myself among those frustrated about not yet being able to make my way through the insurance exchanges due to technical glitches and volume, I am doing so only partly as a single-payer advocate. But I am also doing so mostly as a woman so brutalized by the market-based, profit-driven system that I am anxious to find some financial relief from the $875.97 monthly COBRA/Aetna premium I now pay for pretty substandard coverage. My deductible and co-pays are hard to manage on top of the monthly premium, and my maximum out-of-pocket exposure with this policy could bankrupt us again if the cancer tests from which I am now waiting results show I need more treatment. I admit it. I want to find on the exchange a better health insurance plan at a lower premium cost, and I want to know if I will be eligible for any tax credit or subsidy. So, yes, I want the ACA/Obamacare to be successful in providing me and millions like me some relief.

When you have cancer or some other difficult health condition, no one cuts you much slack in our society. Working class people keep working as hard and as long as they possibly can and then when we must back off a bit of strenuous work hours and demands due to health crisis and the toll that stress will take on our health status, we often must take on the COBRA costs that are so horrific that we nearly go broke paying those premiums. And if this new law, as flawed as it is for our long run, can provide me and others like me with a little breathing room to just be human and deal with human needs, then I want it to provide that relief.

This morning when I looked back in to Connect for Health Colorado (for the seventh or eighth time since Tuesday), I was pleased to make it a little bit further into the application before I was met with this message: "Thank you for your patience while we work to fix a technical issue. Please contact us at 1-855-PLANS-4-YOU (1-855 752-6749) if you need assistance."

Well, no thank you, I will not likely be able to be too patient as I really just want the hope that once I get to January that I won't have to be so terrified and worried and that I'll have better, more affordable health insurance options. And until the day when I actually have access to a single standard of high quality care without financial barrier through improved and expanded Medicare for all for life, I will continue to grab onto those things that will help me get by well enough to keep up the good fight.

For those who are wealthy enough and well set enough not to need to rely on any other options for health care access than you have right now, forgive those of us who must and count your blessings. Just because your bank account or insurance status is better than mine does not mean you have any more courage of your convictions than I do of mine.

October 3, 2013 -- Today's count of the health care dead and broke for profit in the U.S.:

The 2013, to date, U.S. medical-financial- industrial -complex system dead: 34,335

The 2013, to date, U.S. health care system bankrupt: 541,040

** These figures are calculated based on the Harvard University studies on excess deaths in the U.S. due to lack of insurance coverage or the ability to pay for needed health care, and the Harvard University study that calculated the high percentage of personal bankruptcies attributable to medical crisis and debt in the U.S. 123 people die daily due to lack of coverage or cash to pay for care; 1,978 go bankrupt every day due to medical crisis and debt though the majority had insurance at the time their illness or injury occurred. This statistic is also based on the 1.2 million bankruptcies in the U.S. in 2012, according to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and calculating those medically-related.


Donna Smith, executive director of the
Health Care for All Colorado Foundation