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Friday, December 30, 2016


Anonymous posts a witty comment, appended to a scholarly allusion to St. Thomas, the core of which is this:  “Because as much as I'm ashamed to admit it, I'm actually looking forward to those journalistic profiles of Trump voters who have their Obamacare plans canceled, and who subsequently come down with a serious illness that bankrupts them. Yes, this is terrible, I know. But can anyone deny that it'll be an example of people getting their just deserts?”

Since the New Year approaches, when we are enjoined to make resolutions of personal improvement going forward, I will confess that deep in the recesses of my mind, similar thoughts have been known to percolate up out of the cesspool of my pre-conscious.  I promise to try to repress them come Saturday.

The real problem is that although the congressional districts are gerrymandered, the states are not [or at least not lately], which means that along with those undeserving types who either voted for Trump or failed to vote, there are millions upon millions of decent folk, like myself here in benighted North Carolina, who did their damnedest to forestall disaster and simply fell short.  If I could figure out a way to make the harms Trump will cause fall solely on those who elected him, I would find it a good deal harder to turn over a new leaf and become a better person in the new year.


Chris said...

Last night I made my final (late) payment on my wife's 'catastrophe' insurance. $160 for the month every month. We also went to get her antibiotics. $40. That's $200 on health in one day. Insurance doesn't cover her antibiotics. Her insurance only covers the sorts of catastrophes that if we have them, we are going bankrupt as soon as we make co payments, and hit our deductible (starts around $10,000, i.e., bankruptcy). I'm a teaching assistant, she's a hair stylist, so it's not as if our incomes can afford an additional $160 a month, and it's not as if it's helping us in any discernible away. It is however hurting us in a very discernible way. I have to pay $160 for my insurance too (we really can't afford $320 a month), and to add her to my plan, which would reduce the monthly cost to $150 a month, requires an initial several month payment of around $1,000. Money I don't keep lying around for obamacare.

So, "can anyone deny that it'll be an example of people getting their just deserts”

Yeah, my wife and I.

Jerry Fresia said...

I had hoped to return to the US someday, but healthcare costs make it nearly impossible. I live in Italy. About ten years ago, my wife had a panic attack on a bus. The driver dutifully pulled over and called an ambulance. The passengers waited patiently. The ambulance arrived in about a half hour brought my wife to a hospital about 15 miles away; exams were done. Nothing found. She was released. Cost to us: ZERO

Last year, I had a hip replacement. It was mandatory that I remain in the hospital for about 5 days post op; then it was mandatory that I do physical therapy. All toll, I was in the hospital (with no choice in the matter) for 21 days. Shots, pills, various monitoring everyday. During this period my knee was killing me. They gave me an x-ray and some kind of miracle shot - knee has felt like new now for about a year. Total cost to me for hip replacement was about $60, 40 of which was due to the fact that I voluntarily bought one of those 10 inch high seats one puts on a toilet to prevent bending of the hip 90 degrees.

I blame Obama for caving straight away with the adoption of a health program written by the insurance industry. With control of both houses he could have rallied his coalition, push hard for single payer or a public option and if necessary, bargain down. Even medicare would be too expensive for me these days.

TheDudeDiogenes said...

I don't really know how to feel about the ACA. I know several people who have insurance for them and their families for the first time in their lives; but I also know people who pay the fine because it's cheaper than getting insurance.

I've no idea if it would have had any chance at success, but I think Obama should have tried to get single-payer passed. The ACA seems to be failing, in many people's eyes, and if it is repealed rather improved, I fear any hope of decent federal healthcare laws is dead. I also fear for the medical care the average Joe will be able to afford in the coming decades.

Chris said...

Jerry, I had a panic attack too once, and mistook it for a heart condition (which runs in my family). I had a friend drive me to the ER. I was there 2 hours and got one x ray and one ekg. Total cost: $4,000!

I don't have $4,000, so I kinda John Doed and skipped town... (probably shouldn't be admitting this on the internet lol).

Chris said...

This is the first time my wife and I have had insurance (except I had it once for a year when I worked in HR over a decade ago). Again, it's a net loss for both of us, not a net gain. That's just an empirical fact.

My brief stint in HR though was great private insurance. $60 a month, and I got full chiropractor, medical visits, therapy visits, just about anything, and the deductibles kicked in at $100. I loved it. I went to the doctor every other month just to ensure I had consummate health.

Now we pay $320 a month for nothing but the greasing of some corporations bottom line. Ugh.

Charles Perkins said...

Prof Wolff and Anonymous,

Have you seen this? Anything to make someone's New Year resolution a little harder:

David said...

When I was in graduate school and an instructor at the University of Massachusetts (1981-1984), I had health coverage through the university. Chris, I take it that that's not an option for you.

Even those of us who have healthcare through our employer have horror stories. What a mess.

The best health coverage my wife and I ever enjoyed was when we lived in Germany for two years. When I told my mother about Germany's socialized healthcare system, she said that she would support such a system in our country, as long as the Germans ran it.

Chris said...

I have health insurance through the university. That's why we pay $320 a month. $160 for me, $160 for her. Mine is 'okay'. My wife's is awful. Hers is through BCBS. Like I said, if I were to cover her under my plan, we would need to have something like a lump sum of $1,000, which I don't keep lying around for insurance purposes...

Robert Paul Wolff said...

It is important to remember that at UMass the graduate students TA's [and the faculty and the professional employees] were and are unionized!

s. wallerstein said...

Even in Chile public healthcare is free.

If you have a panic attack, you can go to an emergency room in a public hospital. You'll wait a long time, but they'll treat you free of charge. The x-ray will be free too.

Given the waits, anyone who has the money will go to a private clinic or a university hospital emergency room and pay for it.

Same thing with non-emergency surgery: you can wait for months or years and get it done free in a public hospital or pay (the insurance pays part of course) to get it done next week in a private clinic. In any case, healthcare prices are much much lower than in the United States.

Ed Barreras said...

My New Year's resolution is to do everything I can to make it to heaven. That way I can look down on the eternal suffering of Joe Lieberman in hell. He was the hold-out, you remember, that kept the public option out of the ACA. Some say Obama could have done more to twist Lieberman's arm, or even that Obama didn't really want a public option himself. I don't know if that's true, but at least Lieberman did us the courtesy of openly proclaiming himself a craven weasel.

I second your comment on unions, professor. I grew up in a union household. My father was/is essentially a blue collar worker, but we always had excellent insurance that pretty much covered one-hundred percent of our medical costs. Since our politicians have foresaken us, it looks like a new era of collective action will be our only hope.

Chris said...

It's hardly a problem that rest solely on the shoulders of Joe. Obama appointed Max Baucus to chair the writing of the bill, and his primary assistant was a health insurance insider who has worked in the industry, and Max himself was flush with donations from health insurance providers. That was a recipe for a conservative bill from the start. Also, let's remember Obama promised during his campaign to negotiate with the insurance providers live on C-Span, shortly thereafter he met with them privately, and it was leaked he promised them no haggling on Rx drug pricing. Typical corporate democrats.

F Lengyel said...
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F Lengyel said...
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