View Mobile Site

How did we survive without ACA insurance?

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED June 30, 2017 11:37 p.m.

My mother was born on a working cattle ranch in the Nevada County foothills in a setting similar to what Loretta Lynn described as a country holler in her song “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
There was no running water on the ranch.
If the kids got sick — and there were 10 of them at one point — my grandmother used home remedies. If that didn’t, someone rode into Grass Valley or Nevada City to fetch a doctor.
One of my mom’s brothers died of botulism. Another died after being kicked in the head while shoeing a horse. An 11th sibling died at birth. This was a time frame of perhaps 80 to 90 years ago
My mom lived to be 84. She had health insurance, but it was for catastrophic events such as heart attacks. Doctor visits, emergency room visits for injuries, dental work, and eye glasses for my mom as well as my brothers and sister were on her dime.
Medical care was much less expensive. Just like before we had the Affordable Care Act, if someone had a life threatening event such as a heart attack or a serious accident, they were not denied care due to a lack of means. How it got paid for was another issue. Sometimes it was payments over years. Sometimes it was good old-fashioned bartering such as a side of beef. Sometimes it was simply forgiven.
The only issue ACA really addressed was propping up insurance as we know it today — an all-inclusive way of paying the tab to a large degree for routine and catastrophic needs. The ACA also was meant to assure the hospitals whose emergency rooms are legally open to all would get payment of some type for all patients.
Today the folks back in DC are continuing the madness that started in the 1960s and accelerated under the ACA. The madness is three-fold: The idea that routine medical expenses shouldn’t cost you anything or next to nothing out of pocket; the abdication that we are responsible for our health and that a pill or procedure must exist to cure us of all ills big or small; and that the government can save us all.
Last month the State of California adopted a $178 billion budget. At the same time the State Senate passed a single payer health insurance plan that the Assembly leadership wisely opted not to bring up. The price tag for single payer was pegged at $400 billion annually. Assuming for once that isn’t your typical government low ball figure, single payer health care cost almost 2½ times what we spend to run the entire state government for a year. Keep in mind that $178 billion already includes funding for Medi-Cal. The only way they could possible collect enough money to pay for single payer is to tax each breath we take.
Let’s go back to my mom for a second. Her brothers that died from botulism, being kicked in a head by a horse and even the still born sibling may have survived if they had access to medical care. It wasn’t an issue of money but lack of physical access. And, to keep everyone honest, maybe they would have died anyway.
There is a 100 percent mortality rate. We are all going to die. It doesn’t get simpler than that.
Longevity is a different animal. It is impacted by DNA, one’s relative level of recklessness or carelessness, diet, exercise, stress, and abuse.
It costs a lot of money to attend to health issues created by drug abuse just as it does with those rooted in diet and lack of using your human body as it was intended. The least expensive — and most effective — health plan is the one where you treat your body like a temple.
The national conversation needs to be focused on two things — pre-existing conditions and providing access to health care. There are more effective ways of addressing both for those that lack insurance than through insurance plans. Both the ACA and proposes to replace it talk about government pools of money to deal with pre-existing conditions. That is what is causing high premium hikes and chaos in the insurance market. Set up a government pool for those people instead and have the government and not insurance companies administer it.
As for access to general medical services, the government would be better off setting up free clinics staffed by doctors and nurses that work at greatly reduced wages for four or so years in exchange for having their medical education covered 100 percent by Uncle Sam.
We also need to keep in mind numbers that show the most expensive two weeks of our lives are the week we are born and the week we die. That references costs to not just birth by premature complications as well as those associated with Hail Mary efforts to prolong the lives of those where terminal illness clearly has the upper hand.
We need to debate such issues as a society as we can’t afford what we have or even what is proposed.
There are also needs to be a sober awakening. Instead of saying this or that proposal will kill 22 million people somehow, we need to understand that universal insurance as opposed to universal access to health care, is not a panacea.
 Economists understand that 100 percent employment — while it sounds like utopia — comes at a high financial cost. That’s why full employment is a concept that involves jobless rates hoovering between 3 and 5 percent.
 We need to rethink the path we are on when it comes to our health and the concept of insurance.

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...