A new way to save your ass: health care reform

Garrison Ebie

Shortly before the New Year arrived, I had come to the conclusion that a trip to the dentist was overdue. It’s been five years. I could feel the plaque in my gums begging to be scraped away by a sharp edge of surgical steel. The potential of having multiple cavities in my jaw was one of the most convincing factors in this decision. I needed a new toothbrush and some floss, too.

Honestly though, even though these may all be good excuses, the truth is I loathe doctors and dentists with a fiery passion. The awful taste of rubber gloves and fluoride, the bright spotlight shining directly into my eyes, that weird tube that sucks out all the spit and the unfriendly sound of drills; it has all kept me away for a very long time. There was actually only one reason why this had to happen before the first day of 2009 came along. I wouldn’t have health insurance anymore.

I am now one of the 45 million Americans without a drop of insurance to cover my flesh in the case of an emergency. The next time I break an arm, cut a deep wound into my flabby skin or chip two front teeth falling down a flight of stairs, I will be what they call “financially screwed.” This country may offer the best medical facilities in the world, but that’s only because they cost more than anything else in the world.

Apparently my father’s health insurance policy says that when his children reach the ripe, old age of 23, they should have the means by which to fully insure themselves. I agree. I’m an old man and can fair pretty well taking care of myself. Conventionally speaking, I should be able to do this, but part-time jobs and minimum wage while trying to graduate college doesn’t really permit it.

Plenty of discussion was tossed around leading up to last November’s election about health care reform. Even though this agenda was promoted by our last two leaders, neither of them made much headway in the issue, and I sincerely hope that this time the matter doesn’t get pushed back into some deep dark corner of Washington. The political process has a habit of continuing the same old charade of too much talk and not enough signatures.

President Obama was sworn into office Tuesday, and, if all goes according to his plan, affordable health care is on the way. In various debates, speeches and on his official Web site, he has laid out a meticulous plan to change the way Americans go to the doctor and pop pills from the drug store. Considering my situation, this reform carries considerable weight on my list of things I care about. For several like-minded readers out there, I’m sure you might be in the same theoretical boat of concern. Because of this, I figured a recap of the current plan might be worth explaining. Think the Cliffs Notes version – this will be something like that. Keep in mind that individual details are certain to change while bills are being discussed in Congress, but as it stands, here’s a basic rundown of this new system that’s been proposed.

First off, if you already have a health insurance policy, you won’t have to change anything. The Man will not force an unwanted crappy socialist health care policy down your throat. If you don’t have any and still don’t want any, no one out there is going to force it on you. On the other hand though, a mandate will require that all children are covered.

So, where the real change lays is with this new public program that works a lot like Medicare, except it’s not limited to old people. This proposed program can cover those who don’t have any access to employer health insurance. Now bear with me here because everything gets a little tricky from here on out. All employers, meaning the people that write you a paycheck on somewhat of a routine basis, will be required to either provide their own policy to employees or contribute to this public plan. Businesses providing their own policy will receive a tax break.

In other words, if you have a job, you’re pretty much safe. It’s not going to be free or anything, but you definitely won’t be paying outrageous costs all by yourself.

The cost of most health care will be shifted to the government rather than private companies, which in this economy are probably broke and don’t want to pay for broken arms or kidney transplants. While I’m not completely in support of digging America deeper into financial ruin, I also don’t want to be manipulated by greedy corporate insurance firms that charge outrageous premiums and deny most claims. It’s difficult to determine what’s worse. The administration’s best estimates claim that this will save the average American family $2,500 per year.

Everything sure sounds real peachy, but then again, 30 years ago everyone thought we’d have flying cars by now. I’m still

looking for one.

Garrison Ebie is an electronic media production major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].