July 2, 2012
I’m very glad that, due to health care reform, insurers will no longer be able to drop patients who become critically ill. I’m very glad that the Medicare Gap for seniors will close, allowing them to afford prescriptions that are beyond their ability to purchase at this time. I’m delighted that sick children can no longer be turned down due to pre-existing conditions. I’m happy for the families of college students that they will be able to keep those students on family insurance plans through college and beyond. I’m very happy for all of these long-overdue reforms. I just have one question: Why do I have to pay for it?
I’m among the class that got you elected, Mr. President: The working class. You remember us, don’t you? We’re the “little people” who you promised to look out for. Better take a good look at us while you can because, thanks to the health care mandate, many of us are about to sink into that dreadful class, the Working Poor.
I’m a single working professional. I also clean offices on the weekend to make ends meet. I know when my dog’s vaccinations are due and I save up over the months in order to take him in on time. I see my doctor twice a year for high blood pressure, and I save up in advance for those visits also. I save up for my annual car registration renewal. I save up over the summer for the boots I know I’ll need every other winter. No, I don’t buy new boots every year. I save up over the winter for the sandals I know I’ll need every summer. No, I don’t buy new sandals every year. Mr. President, I have shoes in my closet that are part of my wardrobe that I purchased while you were still battling Mrs. Clinton for the candidacy. I keep my work clothes in good order; I have to because I can’t afford to replace them. I regularly wear one skirt I purchased on the clearance rack at Lane Bryant in 2006. My newest skirt is two years old.
My van is a 2009 Plymouth Voyager with over 120K miles. I paid cash for it in 2007. I have no credit cards, no TV, no smart phone. I take no vacations. I have no savings or retirement plan. I live simply and – what seems to be unheard of in this day and age – I live within my means. I read tarot cards for the little money I need to support my hobby, which is painting found pieces of wood or glassware and from which I derive exquisite enjoyment. I don’t go to the movies. I have no living room furniture because it got old and I couldn’t afford to replace it, but that’s okay. My living room is filled with bookcases and tables that were given to me and it’s quite nice, if I do say so myself. I rent a 75 year old house that has some structural issues, but I love it because I’ve made it into my home. I enjoy my life, even though I live paycheck-to-paycheck.
Why do you want to take what little I have from me? Is it because I’m too happy in my little world where I can pay my own way and where I ask for not a single dime in handouts? I guess I don’t fit the profile. I’m not on assistance and I’m not independently wealthy. Ergo, there is no glory in espousing my cause.
Health care reform mandates that I purchase insurance or pay a penalty. It will be affordable, you say. How do you know, I ask? How do you know what’s affordable to me? I’ve seen the tables. I work in accounting; I understand math better than most people. According to the calculations I’ve seen, I’m going to be required to pay up to approximately $150 a month for health care insurance. That’s a day’s lunch to you, I’m sure. That’s a month’s worth of groceries to me. “Affordable” is such a subjective word; you have no idea how it terrifies me.
Mrs. Obama, have you ever cried when you received your electric bill after a particularly hot or cold month? I have. Have you worried about Bo when he was sick and you couldn’t afford to take him to the vet? I’ve worried sick about my Slevin. Is your dog so much more important to you than mine are to me? Is Bo somehow worthy of health while my Slevin is not, simply because I didn’t marry the “right man”, or earn a scholarship to college? Is the fact that my babies are everything to me meaningless, as long as someone somewhere will get to see a doctor while me and my dogs will not? Because I can assure you, paying for mandatory health care insurance will destroy my health and the health of my companion animals (as if my health and theirs can in any way be considered separate issues) in a way that you cannot or will not understand.
One last question, but it’s rhetorical: Why is it that no matter what the issue – health care reform, foreign war, immigration, tax reform – why is it that the cost of these always falls onto the backs of we Americans who are working the hardest?