Like oil and water, these two ideologies simply don’t mix. Last night, I read an article on NPR about Aetna dropping from the Affordable Care Act, known to many people as Obamacare. As a curious bystander and occasional commenter, I typically read the comments section to see how people feel about what was written, but I’ll get back to that in a moment.
What Doctors Want
I knew what my opinion was after reading the article. My initial response was that we cannot have things both ways, at least when it comes to health care. We are either committed to helping people get healthy or we are committed to making a profit. We may like to believe the two are ultimately intertwined; yet when it comes down to it, most doctors don’t go to medical school and put themselves in enormous student loan debt to save people’s lives. They do it for prestige and wealth.
Remember the episode of Seinfeld where Elaine is dating the pre-med guy who hasn’t yet passed his exam? She gives up sex to help him concentrate and in the end of the episode, he passes his exam and breaks up with her. Upon questioning, he explains that he always knew when he became a doctor, he would break up with whoever he was with to find someone better. That was his goal all along.
Now, this may not be a realistic example of a modern doctor’s aspirations, after all, it is only a TV show set in the 1990’s. However, there are many doctors who are arrogant and prove it as such. I’m not sure what they have to go through to medical school, but I liken it to the psychological conditioning police officers face. It’s us against them.
Why would I say that? In a general sense, doctors are at odds with the public due to liability and malpractice concerns. Additionally, they are faced with every single awful problem that happens to human beings, which can make you pretty jaded. They lose empathy and compassion after seeing sick people day after day, but I digress.
Healthcare: Left vs. Right
Getting back to the comments section of the article I was reading, there were two dominant males (as usual) hashing out why Bernie Sanders’ version of democratic socialism versus the free market. One thing I noticed, in particular, was how the free market defender kept referring to “the left” and how people on the left did not understand the concept of the free market or economic policy.
As I read the combatants’ comments, I recognized that both sides are correct in their views. If there is too much government involvement, we become controlled and powerless. However, if we let the free market run to its own devices, we end up with businesses running amok and polluting everything. The real problem, as I am seeing it now, is that the so-called free market has colluded with the government through bribery and scare tactics.
When it comes to healthcare, governmental control combined with the greed of corporations ultimately gave us the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) signed into law in 2010. Had Obama been strong enough to stand up and insist that “health care for all” meant that anyone who works, period, should qualify for coverage, there would not have been such a large drop in full-time positions available, especially minimum wage jobs.
Any employee of a retail establishment or restaurant who hadn’t been grandfathered in, or held a management position, saw his or her hours cut, to ensure the employer would not be responsible for coverage. In the case of Aetna back in 2014, when PPACA went into effect, they saw an opportunity to make money. What they did not realize, was the costs involved with helping people who had probably gone without any sort of care for years.
My Experience with the PPACA
To this day, after over twenty years of being employed, I have never qualified for health care coverage at any single position. Perhaps that is due to my inability to stick around any one place for more than a year. Maybe it is because I am a woman, which disqualifies me for certain positions. Notably, I have not acquired a bachelor’s degree either, due to my income an unwillingness to become indebted to student loans, so there is that as well.
But, the biggest issue which has caused my inconsistent work behavior, and therefore prevented me from obtaining regular coverage, comes from the mental health problems which have interfered with my ability to cope.
People like myself – as was sarcastically noted in the comments section of the NPR story – the homeless [formerly, in my case] and mentally ill, are the people who drive up the costs of health care in some people’s minds. The opposing argument was that it is the for-profit businesses who intentionally drive up the costs.
Of course, being on the flipside of that coin, I am prone to confirmation bias; that the side that blames homeless and mentally ill people is wrong. Yet, it is plausible that I am wrong because I am basing my opinions not on fact, but experience.
Whose Fault is it Anyway?
To play the devil’s advocate (notably, I do believe this opinion is devilish – it’s certainly not Jesus-like), let’s just say it’s the homeless and mentally ill are causing the rates of health care to go up. My argument to the devil’s opinion is this: if that is the case, and more affluent people are being forced to take on the burden of cost via increased insurance, etc., then why don’t we formulate a system which allows the most cumbersome population to become more valuable to us in general?
Could we not figure out a way to help people instead of perceiving them as a burden? I sincerely believe my brother committed suicide because that was how he saw himself, as a burden. I still to this day, see myself as one to my parents and even to my friends. The difference is that I want to try harder to make it through because I don’t believe my time is up yet. I will pass when it’s my time to go.
But until that time comes, I need healthcare. I need food. I need water. We all do.
I have a job again, and for that I am grateful. But what about those who do not have the option to find one? Are we supposed to just ignore it and say, “Oh well. It’s not my problem”? There are tons of people down in Louisiana right now who are battling against the flooding down there, saving lives. Is that their problem? Absolutely not, but they are still there doing it because it’s about humanity.
It’s about how we treat each other as human beings and whether our planet matters enough to bother to make an effort even when we do not gain personally from it. I imagine the richest people in the world laugh out of spite in these scenarios; “Good, fewer people to take my money away,” they probably think.
I do not know the answer to whether free market or government is the better of the two. What I do know is that when there is too much back-scratching between large powers, and in our case in America, there is too much opportunity for corruption. At this point, our planet is struggling to sustain what humans are putting it through, and we must change if we want to continue to live here on planet Earth. If we do not alter our actions soon, we will not have a need for healthcare anymore, because there will be no habitable place for humans to reside any longer.