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Good Health To You

The United States Supreme Court today upheld the Affordable Care Act (known in some circles as Obamacare). It is a monumental ruling, one that will have ramifications for years to come (as did the original legislation). You probably won't be surprised to know that I am in favor of the ACA. Our healthcare system needed updating (to say the least). With rising costs, ever-increasing diversification of medical providers and services, and a populous that will continue to have aging and sick bodies, we need some sort of safety net to ensure readily available, humane care for all of us.

My support of the Affordable Care Act is not for purely altruistic reasons. My own life has been affected greatly by the lack of affordable health insurance. For six years, I was without health coverage. Note that I was working during those six years, full-time, but that health insurance was either not made available to me, or else all medical providers available under the (expensive) plan were out of town by a good 30 minutes, or I had to take a physical to join a plan, and had some strikes against me do to the pre-existing clause (for my high blood pressure). So, six years without coverage it was.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that the human body does not respect its own lack of adequate medical coverage. This was the case when, in 2003, I developed a sudden, baseball-sized lump on my upper chest. This of course required a trip to the doctor, then a CT scan, then a trip to a specialist. The lump was determined to be a ruptured blood vessel/bleed-out due to an extreme coughing fit, but the CT scan found a nodule on my thyroid. The specialist I went to for this did a fine needle aspiration. The nodule was benign, but the specialist wanted to monitor it. After all of these doctors' visits and tests, I was thousands of dollars in the hole, so I told the specialist "thanks, but no thanks," and proceeded on my not-so-merry way.

Fast forward to late 2009. I had insurance with a full-time job at a university that gave me great health benefits. My throat started to feel funny, like there was something odd in it, and so, after several doctors' visits and tests, it was discovered there were three nodules on my thyroid, that they were cancerous, and that the entire thyroid gland needed to be removed. This occured in April of 2010, followed by a dose of radiation two months later that required being isolated from people and pets for 3 days. The costs for all of this approached $40,000. Luckily, I had insurance. Not everyone is so fortunate. I know, I've been there.

When relaying this series of events, in the Summer of 2010, to my cousin Toby, he gave a sympathetic laugh and said, "Better to die cheap, huh?" This, of course, is what happens to far too many people in our moden, 1st world society. It is, frankly, shameful. It's an embarrassment. And, it's often  a death sentence for the many who do choose to die cheaply, rather than incur a boatload of medical debt in order to have themselves checked-out for some malady that could prove fatal (or even just chronic).

Our system of coverage in the United States isn't perfect. Some on the political left have chided Obama and the Democrats for not going far enough with the Affordable Care Act, but instead I choose to go with the motto that 'Something Is Better Than Nothing.' And the ACA is better than what we had previously. Frankly, if it saves even one life, or improves the quality of life of just one person, then it is already a success.

Our heads should be held high on this proud day of our great nation. And no more should our fellow citizens be forced to choose between overwhelming medical costs without proper insurance, or to just die on the cheap. We're better than that, America.


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