Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Health care reform and family values

The US pays more per capita than any other developed nation for health care. For that vast sum of money, we do not cover all our citizens. Our outcomes are worse (infant mortality, for example, is higher in the USA than in Cuba). And medical bills, even for insured people, can be catastrophic, resulting in bankruptcy. In fact, 62% of bankruptcies come from health care bills, most of which are people who have insurance. If you think it couldn't happen to you, you're wrong. Nearly all of us would be wiped out, even with what we think are solid insurance plans, by a significant and expensive illness.

Marriage has a significant benefit in insurance costs. Most employer plans will allow the employee to cover his/her spouse and children, for an extra fee. And this is part of being married. Unless you are gay, naturally. If my wife were covered on my employer's health plan, my employer would have no problem. But the IRS would look at the value of that coverage, and consider it taxable income. That would be a sizeable boost in my income and therefore taxes that a straight married couple wouldn't pay, leading to a significant financial disincentive.

Of course, that wouldn't stop creditors from bankrupting us for medical bills. Unlike the government, THEY have no problem seeing us as married. Which leads to stories like this one about a woman whose husband was diagnosed with dementia:
The disease is degenerative, and he will become steadily less able to care for himself. At some point, as his medical needs multiply, he will probably need to be institutionalized.

The hospital arranged a conference call with a social worker, who outlined how the dementia and its financial toll on the family would progress, and then added, out of the blue: "Maybe you should divorce."

"I was blown away," M. told me. But, she said, the hospital staff members explained that they had seen it all before, many times. If M.'s husband required long-term care, the costs would be catastrophic even for a middle-class family with savings.

Eventually, after the expenses whittled away their combined assets, her husband could go on Medicaid -- but by then their children's nest egg would be gone, along with her 401(k) plan. She would face a bleak retirement with neither her husband nor her savings.

Kristof reports that the laws are written to allow seizure of assets up to 5 years post-divorce.

So let's get this straight, so to speak: "family values" in this country not only deny gay families protection including access to insurance, but specifically require straight couples divorce to avoid bankruptcy and ruin of the family and impovershment of the children.

THESE are the "family values" of the Republicans: a big F*** you to families whether straight or gay. Divorce, or go bankrupt. THis is the "status quo" and the "sacredness of marriage" that Republicans support.

There is NO justification for any of this. NO justification to deny gay families legal rights, and NO justification to preserve the status quo of a system that destroys families in financial ruin.

The immorality of this system is truly breathtaking. These people have the audacity to claim morality and Judeo-Christian values. But who would Jesus bankrupt?


June Butler said...

Thank you, Jake. Health care is a moral issue. I don't see how anyone with principles can defend the chaotic and cruel system we have in place now. As a Christian, it's unfathomable to me how anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus can say that health care is not a universal right. Health care that will not send you into bankruptcy or cause you to divorce your spouse to stay afloat.

700,000 bankruptcies per year are due to medical bills. Considering that we are the richest country in the world, our health care system is shameful.

June Butler said...

Sorry, thank you, IT, friend of Jake. What was I thinking?

IT said...

Mimi I'm honored.... ;-)

There is a anti-health care teabagger over on Jake's site railing on against reform.

dr.primrose said...

Speaking of teabaggers, as well as the L.A. fire, one of my all-time favorite letters to the editors was in yesterday's L.A. Times:


Where are the "tea baggers" now that we need them?

The bumbling government, once again, is launching another bound-to-fail program with the massing of firefighters to battle the Station fire.

Why save someone else's house from destruction; it's not mine? The fire departments are just more of the socialist governmental programs designed to take away what little freedom we have left. Why can't we just burn in peace?

Ben White

Марко Фризия said...

"Infirmorum cura ante omnia et super omnia adhibenda est, ut sicut revera Christo ita eis serviatur..."

"Before and above all things, care must be taken of the sick, that they be served in very truth as Christ is served."

Benedict of Nursia

JCF said...

Once again, IT, you get the Gospel better than just about any Christian I know...

[Here I am, regretfully thankful for how comparatively quickly ALS killed my mom. :-( ]

IT said...

Thank you JC. There's a lot in common between a preacher and a professor, as BP has remarked to me!

NancyP said...

Yes, the government has closed up the loophole of divorce as a way to enable the spouse to avoid being reduced to abject poverty. That's because a lot of social workers gave out the advice cited in the newspaper story. The problem has been around for a very long time, basically since the early 1980s. It's only going to get worse, folks. The population is aging, and the USA simply won't be able to handle the care issue, since there seems to be little will of the more rational public to insist that their legislators figure out some sort of balance enabling families to take care of their own and continue to live decently and continue working. We don't have the mentality or adequate infrastructure currently, and we won't have one until citizens are off their rumps and out in the streets.

IT said...

I despair, I really do.