Caught in the pinch of health care reform

Read (and listen to) this former newspaper journalist’s account of trying to nail down adequate, affordable health insurance for her family as a freelance writer and editor, and keep in mind that she used to cover this issue for the Chicago Tribune:

“I understood how health insurance worked, or at least I thought I did. So, leaving the Tribune and finding myself sort of cast adrift in the sea to get my own health insurance . . . “

“It was a real eye opener for me about how difficult it is to figure out. I thought I understood the language, [but] I would read these policies and not understand. It really made my heart go out to people who have no health insurance who get stuck trying to find this on their own.”

Is this any way to spark entrepreneurship, self-employment and small business activity? The national unemployment rate is nearing 10 percent, and it’s barely enough to get the president to utter the “e” word. His political opponents — including my congressman — barely match that lip service and offer few workable alternatives. Meanwhile, here’s Richards again:

“What if I lose the policy?. . . Finding this policy was a huge deal for me. Being able to have my entire family covered was a huge weight on my mind. The idea that we might get sick and they might cancel us, just like if you have a bad car accident and the auto insurance company will cancel you, the idea that that could happen with our health insurance is really terrifying, because what are you supposed to do then?”

Anyone who continues to insist that any move away from the status quo amounts to “European socialism” that would undermine the mythology of “rugged individualism” ought to be disabused of this rhetoric. The perpetually aggrieved Tea Party crowd sucks up so much media oxygen about health care and anything else it’s upset about — which is everything.

But middle-class people with middle-class values who need to be served by reform are part of no influential political constituency. They would be required to have coverage under most of the proposals floating in Congress, although it may not be more affordable than it is now. (In fact, the process could very well produce a magnificent debacle.) Yet they soldier on quietly.

They’re too busy trying to make a living, and scrambling to pay for health insurance, to protest.

In the interests of full disclosure — and to prevent any future long reach from Big Brother — I accepted no swag for writing this post. But if you want to toss some my way . . .

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