This Wednesday, my little sister, Julie, will be buried. She died because she delayed seeking health care for what turned out to be a catastrophic condition after her private health insurance policy was cancelled because of Obamacare. As she waited for a new Obamacare-approved policy to kick in, her condition deteriorated to the point that it was too late.
Julie, her husband, and four children were covered by a medical plan they liked, and had been promised they could keep by President Obama. But like so many others in this country, her family’s private health care policy was cancelled because of the Affordable Care Act. So my sister and her family struggled through the expensive and incompetently designed Obamacare website to find a new policy. Unfortunately, while they waited for their new Obama-approved healthcare plan to finally kick in, my little sister fell ill. She couldn’t keep down solid food. She should have gone to a doctor. But she toughed it out, as many people do, until her new coverage would kick in on February 2. She and her husband didn’t have a lot of money, so she didn’t want to incur what she thought were avoidable medical expenses.
But she didn’t make it. It turns out that, unbeknownst to her, she wasn’t suffering from an upset stomach or food poisoning, but a badly blocked gall bladder that had become highly infected. Her body went into septic shock just two days before her Obamacare policy would have kicked in. Her kidneys shut down. She went to the emergency room where, after heroic efforts, a marvelous medical team managed to stabilize her condition. I saw Julie that day for several hours. She could not move, or speak, but a tear trickled down her check when she saw the eldest daughter of her four children. After I left, hoping for the best, I learned the next day that her gentle heart stopped beating around 4:00 a.m.
So, while the White House sends out talking points to the talking heads who proclaim Americans will be better off because Obamacare forced them off of inadequate health care plans, my family knows better.
There are plenty of arguments against Obamacare. Sure, it was drafted behind back doors and passed in a crude, and utterly partisan, fashion. Yes, Nancy Pelosi famously said we had to pass it to see what was in it. And the bill was applied in a crony capitalist fashion, with corporate allies of the President receiving waivers. Then we had the series of backtracking and outright falsehoods—like the infamous “you can keep your plan if you like it” claim uttered by President Obama and repeated by his political and media allies.
Obamacare has also inflicted job losses, higher cost plans, and a shift from full-time to part time employment. Even when factoring in all this the economic damage and the harm it has done to working Americans, the most disturbing aspect of Obamacare is that this real world hardship is inflicted because it treats living breathing people as actuarial statistics in the service of giant insurance pools, rather than as the individuals they are. It is highly ironic that this Administration that talks so much about protecting “choice” in so many areas of American life, yet is harshly shutting down individual choice and initiative in such a personal matter of personal healthcare.
The public debate about Obamacare will continue for a long time. But for my family, the debate ended with the death of my sister. For us, it’s not about “policy,” anymore. It’s about the tragic consequences that can happen when the government decides to cancel the private economic decisions of individuals in favor of a huge policy experiment created in the back rooms of Washington by out-of-touch bureaucrats, statisticians and lobbyists. As far as we are concerned, Obamacare killed my little sister and left a good man a widower, and four children without their mother.
-- Doug Graham, lives in Maryland and works in equipment development for the U.S. Military