“Single Payer will never, ever come to pass”
Brittany Sneers

I want to comment here, as well — and first, Brittany, I am sorry for your loss, and for the loss of your family. In a modern nation, there is no excuse for it.

I had a lot of concerns about the ACA, in particular, the individual mandate system, which forced us to buy from private health insurers — in my case, BCBS in Texas. Even so, knowing what it had been like before, in the Wild West days when there was NOTHING stopping the health insurance companies from screwing people out of their healthcare, I wanted the ACA to succeed, so for the first time in my life, the year the mandate rolled out, I bought health insurance.

I had long been denied, due to pre-existing conditions — I’m one of those lucky men in the world who is prone to chronic prostatitis, which may not be life-threatening, but is certainly quality-of-life-threatening. It’s a miserable condition to have, and after my first bout from 2006–2008 (which I faced with no insurance whatsoever, as the various companies in the industry had priced me out upon learning that I was sick), I had lived in fear of its return.

About seven years after it had recovered, while I was on a trip to Japan, it came back. I was lucky — while healthcare is a little pricier in Japan than in other advanced nations, I was able to go to an English-speaking clinic, get examined, diagnosed, and prescribed the antibiotics I needed for just about $100 USD. (This includes the medication, too, so I consider it a fairly good deal.) Upon returning to the US, I saw the doctor that I had been assigned, who did NOT do any examinations at all, and was charging me well over $140 per visit, with insurance. Eventually he strongly recommended that I go to a urologist, as relapses began to occur (also a common occurrence with the condition) — there was only one who accepted BCBS, which has a virtual monopoly on insurance where I live, and he was across town. A good doctor, to be sure, and very reasonably priced, since my insurance actually didn’t cover it. This is all under the ACA, mind.

The point is, I was paying into my health insurance — the premiums were going up by no less than $40 each year — and yet it was not really covering all that much in terms of my healthcare. Had I not suffered a flareup, I probably would not have gone to the doctor a single time between 2015 and 2016, because it still would have been too expensive, under the ACA, and yet, at the end of 2016, they still would have jacked up my rates by over $100, which is exactly what they did, with the expectation that I would pay over $300 a month for a bronze plan. (That’s fairly expensive for me — I know it’s not as bad as it could be, but it certainly hurts my finances.) I eventually shifted to a silver plan for $368, which I felt was more worth the money.

And I was losing money every month. Suddenly, I couldn’t put a red cent away anymore, for the first time in years. As of June of this year, I am now among the over 30 million uninsured again, because I just couldn’t afford my health insurance anymore. Now, it only takes a catastrophic illness or injury, and I will either die or go bankrupt, like so many other people in this country.

The ACA was always doomed to fail, as much as I hate to say it, because as I understand it, Obama had cut a deal with the health and pharmaceutical companies to keep the public option out of the legislation, and he didn’t pass single-payer when he very well had the chance with the White House, a significant majority in the House, and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Combine that with stiff, irrational Republican resistance (because tax increases on the most well-off Americans, for shame!), and I don’t know that the ACA ever had a real chance. But that doesn’t mean I favor Trumpcare, nor a return to the Wild West days. We never needed to repeal the ACA — we need to make it better.

We need single-payer in this country, plain and simple. We need to stop rationing care based on the “wallet biopsy,” and start rationing it based on NEED. Your cousin didn’t need to die…so many people in this country don’t need to die. Others, like myself, don’t need to suffer with chronic conditions that severely impact our quality of life. I would much rather pay a little more in taxes, and receive actual, real healthcare that protects our lives and gets us the treatments we need, when we need them, than to continue protecting the profits of the healthcare industry.

I apologize for the lengthy reply, but I wanted to share my story, because I’m sure I’m not the only one who has a story like this to tell. And again, Brittany, I am sorry for your loss. I want an America that is compassionate…but we’re not there yet. If our stories can help get us there, I think they’re worth sharing.

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