Friday 5 May 2017

Opinion: Trumpcare is Trump cares nothing about you

A son’s promise
I remember my mother. She was 52 years old when she died of ovarian cancer, and you know what she was thinking about in the last months of her life? She wasn't thinking about getting well. She wasn't thinking about coming to terms with her own mortality. She had been diagnosed just as she was transitioning between jobs. And she wasn't sure whether insurance was going to cover the medical expenses because they might consider this a pre-existing condition. I remember just being heartbroken, seeing her struggle through the paperwork and the medical bills and the insurance forms. So, I have seen what it's like when somebody you love is suffering because of a broken health care system. And it's wrong. It's not who we are as a people.” Barack Obama [Wikipedia]
The quote above was the personal life story that inspired what we all know as Obamacare, the heartfelt promise of a son to anyone whose mother, relation or themselves might be faced with the onslaught of illness that they do not have to worry about the bills and forms.
This is the human story
Just imagine, faced with a life-threatening illness and all you can think about is whether you have enough to meet the payments to keep you alive. “She wasn't thinking about getting well. She wasn't thinking about coming to terms with her own mortality.” Yes, Stanley Ann Dunham was struck down with cancer and she was dead within a year of the diagnosis.
When she died in 1995 just 23 days short of her 53rd birthday, Barack Obama had not even begun his political career, he was only married 3 years and she never got to see her grandchildren, they came much later. In what might well be the conspiracy of fate, his grandmother died just two days short of the historic election victory of 2008.
The decline in my health
However, let us leave politics aside and touch on the human stories. By the time, I had finished my contract in April 2009, which was the peak of my career in earnings along with the attendant signs that my health was beginning to deteriorate, I paid no particular heed to the danger ahead.
In the third week of June, I had guests visiting from London and Hong Kong; on Sunday, the 23rd of June, we went to Kinderdijk to see the World Heritage Site of windmills and on our way back, literally, all strength ebbed out of me as we walked from Rotterdam Harbour to the station. When my guests who stayed for a week left on Tuesday morning, I went back to bed and woke up with blisters down my left arm, I had come down with shingles.
That did not stop me travelling to Berlin the next day for the CSD celebrations, but by the time I was ready to return five days later, I was too weak to handle my own luggage, the airline check-in clerk had to come round to place my luggage on the scales, I was taken by wheelchair to the lounge and then by airside vehicle to the plane.
In Amsterdam, staff were on hand to assist me and ensure I just about crawled into my home, exhausted to the point of expiry. Alarm bells were ringing, but I could not hear them. The shingles disappeared within two weeks.
The salvation of insurance
Within 3 months of that, I was admitted to hospital with full-blown AIDS, a culture of self-medication, blind stoicism, religion and just soldiering on had brought me to the very gates of death. Meanwhile, I was earning nothing and chomping through my savings completely oblivious of the entitlements I had earned over almost a decade of working in the Netherlands, what was I to do?
In 2006, the Netherlands introduced compulsory health insurance, a sort of mandated single-payer requirement that was generally affordable. I had the basic cover, but when I fell ill, that basic cover went the whole way to pay for everything needed to get me well again.
As part of my treatment, there was an 18-night stay in the hospital, full-board, 7 sessions of chemotherapy, each chemotherapy dose at today’s prices is 8,735 euros, my pills were about 2,500 euros a month for the first 6 months and insurance took care of everything.
Everyone for the few
That is the mystery of insurance – “a practice or arrangement by which a company or government agency provides a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of a premium.”
The idea is that not everyone would need to resort to it, but if the need comes, it is there to bear the burden. Without it, I would have died in 2009. That I have taken out of the health insurance pool more than I have put into it is just a matter of providence and regulatory processes put in by the government that everyone has equal assess to treatment at the point of need rather than with a bag of means.
Everyone who owns a car pays car insurance, not everyone would have an accident, buildings all have insurance, not every building burns down or collapses. The many in caters for the few mishaps. No one balks at the car or building insurance and health insurance is such an unthinkable thing? Really?
It is about a shared humanity, not socialism
There are different implementations of health insurance in the West, but America fares the worst in the provision of such. Some see the idea of health insurance as provided in Europe as the pinnacle of socialism, industry and profits must thrive in the provision of health and healthcare without the dead hand of government directing it and therein is the animosity against Obamacare from the conservatives.
The brother’s keeper concept has been lost, the heart of understanding human privation has been lost to ideology and politics. The politicians themselves are fully catered for health-wise, it is the people who have been seduced by the rhetoric that would suffer, people who would never have the deep pockets to meet the costs if illness strikes.
You can be down, but never out.
Unlike Stanley Ann Dunham, I did not have to worry about any insurance costs, I kept up with my affordable insurance premiums and soon learnt many months after of my social security entitlements that could cover most of my bills. However, that was not before I had suffered other privations pertaining to sustenance. I was back to work just under 7 months after my diagnosis.
Health insurance saved me and that is one of the great successes of the European social model that is under threat of being ripped apart in the UK with the way our NHS is being badly run by the Conservative government.
When I was down, insurance and welfare held the fort until I was able to get back up on my feet. If I all I could do was face bills and fill in forms without the space to think either about getting well or prepare for my eventual demise, a ‘luxury’ never afforded Stanley Ann Dunham, I probably would not be here writing this.
This is evil and greed at work
The desire to repeal and replace Obamacare is manifestly evil, it is borne of rabid ideological extremism to feather the bulging nest eggs of the already stupendously filthy rich whose greed for more wealth at the expense of a more equal humanity can never be sated.
It has not been costed, it has not been risk-assessed, it has not been studied, it has just been voted through to claim a legislative victory without a single care for those who would be most affected. [BBC News]
To quote a headline “The GOP's health care bill is officially a gigantic tax cut for the rich. (USNews)” This is was President Donald Trump is heralding, there is much else to say apart from that fact that the human story of affordable healthcare has been lost to the Shylocks of the 21st Century, they don’t just want a pound of flesh, they want your heart whilst it still beats cooked for breakfast and if you’re still breathing, your brains for dinner.
Trumpcare is Trump cares nothing about you.

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