I want to start off by saying that I consider allowing myself to develop type II diabetes to be the biggest failure of my life. To my knowledge, none of my relatives have it, so I have to put the blame squarely on myself, and my constant mantra of, “Meh, I’ll go walking tomorrow.”
I certainly don’t deserve an award for my illness. On the other hand, I don’t deserve to lose a foot or die because I can’t afford to pay for treatment.
That’s not to say I’m poor. I don’t worry about where my next meal is coming from. I have a roof over my head. But I’m self-employed. If I were to attempt to get insurance with my weight, age, and pre-existing condition, it would cost me north of $1,100 a month… and that wouldn’t even cover my pre-existing stuff for a year!
I quit the last “regular” job I had two years ago. For 18 months, I was covered by COBRA (which is where you can keep the coverage your employer was paying for, but you have to pay for it yourself.) COBRA is relatively cheap, as you pay the group rate your employer pays.
Once the 18 months were up, Anthem sent me a letter offering the same insurance for some absurd amount. I forget exactly what it was, but it was 4 digits long. I threw it out.
And so, I swung out over the abyss without a safety net. I had to choose which one diabetes pill I could afford, and which, if any, of my other meds I could afford to keep buying. Byetta, the injection I was taking that was actually causing me to lose weight? $800 per month without insurance. So much for that! I put off any doctor’s office visits for months at a time. I’d call 48 hours before an appointment and reschedule for 60 days later, hoping that by then I’d have enough spare cash for an office visit.
Then I found out about California’s Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP,) created as a direct result of “Obamacare.” Not only does it cover everything from day one, it’s cheap, at $306 per month. Office visits? $25. A month of Byetta? $15. Out-of-pocket yearly max? Just $2,500. This. Is. Awesome. This changes everything. I can get the help I need for less than I pay in rent each month!
This is the first phase of “Obamacare,” along with stuff like not denying children coverage and whatnot. This is part of what was allowed to happen right away, as opposed to the more major parts that will kick in at the end of next year. And I’m pretty sure that delay was constructed solely by the Republicans, to give them more time to find a way to kill it. And, of course, they’ve made it obvious they want to kill the whole thing, including my PCIP.
Well, fuck them.
This program was a huge milestone. Obama had to deal with relatively conservative Democrats who wanted changes, and Republicans who would be satisfied with nothing short of… doing nothing. I’m sure that without their obstructionist tactics, and without Obama’s superhuman desire to assume that people are negotiating in good faith, we’d all have this level of insurance by now. Instead, it’s being implemented piecemeal, it’s more watered-down than it should be, and the teabaggers have decided that trying to keep people healthy is somehow treason.
Again, fuck them.
This program has already saved many lives by allowing people with cancer or HIV to get treatment at an affordable price. It may save my life, as I still have a long ways to go before I lose my Homer Simpson-esque physique, and the only thing that’s keeping me from having a stroke is a $130 per month blood pressure pill.
It is not perfect. It is a long way from the European model, which is much better. But it’s a start. It’s here. It’s implemented. It’s helping people. Obama did this. And to him I say,