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why I’m thankful for Obamacare

Originally published at Faith Seeking Understanding. You can comment here or there.

I’m nearing the end of my fellowship at Fordham (I have one more year after this one of guaranteed funding), and I’m actually not horribly far behind schedule to get done. I’m putting the finishing touches on a proposal draft to send off to my advisor this weekend and also have about 40-50 pages of drafted material that will go in the dissertation itself.

And I have a plan. That’s the big thing. I *think* I’m in a position to finish on time, but if not, I’ll handle it. There’s a part of me that’s obsessing over it, and I actually have this drive to save all the money I can right now, as if having a few thousand dollars in the bank could substitute for a regular paycheck if it came to that. But I know I’ll work it out if I don’t get done on time (always a possibility) and if I don’t find a permanent job right off (much more of a factor).

Here’s the thing, though: I’m diabetic and have other health problems, and I need insurance. I couldn’t afford medical expenses otherwise. Ten years ago, if I was looking at the possibility of adjuncting – which is basically the contract work done by people who are either finishing up their doctorates or have done that but not landed a job – I’d be scared I wouldn’t have health insurance and wouldn’t be able to see my doctor or even get the medication I needed. I’d be scared I wouldn’t be able to make ends meet on what is usually a depressingly low pay rate.

Obamacare may not be perfect – in fact, I know it’s not in a lot of ways, but in 2014 we’ll have the health insurance exchanges. I’ll have tax breaks to help me pay for my insurance and a way to get something other than COBRA as an individual – along with the obligation of other, healthier people to help me get the health care I need (and the obligation to help others out as well). Sharing the load. The other safety net programs are encouraging, too. I won’t be starving, no matter how little money I end up making.

I’m not really worried yet about being tossed out on the street. I may have to tighten my belt, but I’ll make it work. It’s not like I’m living large even now, and I’ve gotten by on smaller paychecks before. So for me this is less about the real fear I’ll need those programs, than the comfort in knowing they’re there if I do. I know our safety net isn’t what it needs to be, by a long shot, and I know it should be a net rather than a hammock – when people are forced to rely on it regularly by an exploitative economy there’s obviously something seriously wrong. Still, I’m focusing on the “safety” element, and am really very glad to know that if I can’t make it work on my own, there’s something there to catch me.

Food stamps, Obamacare, welfare… these things aren’t perfect. By a long shot. Still, looking at the possibility of needing them, the fact that they’re there lets me breathe a bit easier.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
ithilwen
Feb. 5th, 2013 05:44 pm (UTC)
I'd be happier with Obamacare if so much of it wasn't a giveaway to the insurance industry. Still, it's a needed step in the right direction.
marta_bee
Feb. 5th, 2013 09:41 pm (UTC)
I hear you on that one. It's certainly far from perfect, but like you I think it's a good step. Mostly I find it encouraging that it treats health care like a communal problem - that if my neighbor can't access health care, that's a problem I need to address, too.
ithilwen
Feb. 6th, 2013 05:23 pm (UTC)
Our health care system has actually progressed to the point of becoming a significant drag on the economy. People can't cut back hours or share a position because they'd lose their benefits, they can't change jobs because of issues with pre-existing conditions - and those are the folks who HAVE health care. We can't just keep doing nothing. As you say, it's a communal problem, and that means we need a communal solution.

I wonder if the best system for the US would be similar to the ones in places like Germany and Switzerland. Private companies offer competing policies - but they have to accept anyone who applies (no cherry-picking). And the government offers a plan as well. So you get universal coverage, but people have some choice, and the system keeps the efficiencies introduced by competition between providers. Alas, there doesn't seem to be any way to get there from here, at least not yet. But maybe Obamacare will get things moving in the right direction.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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