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Reading HB 1566 10 pages at a time

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March 21, 2010. That was the Sunday that would change everything.

Up until that day, states, counties and the people governed healthcare in the United States. But as soon as the ink dried on a 1,990-page bill that promised to provide affordable, quality healthcare for all Americans and reduce the growth in healthcare spending, there was uproar from the American people. The entire country seems to be divided.

Now as a minority in many areas, I have always been a supporter of President

Obama and the kind of change he wants for our country. I have supported his ideas since I heard him speak during his campaign in 2008, and have continued to trust his decisions. This healthcare bill however, evokes such strong emotion and was passed without one single Republican vote. Our President wants to develop a healthcare system that is accessible to everyone and affordable, a system that, if carried out, will have 95 percent of the country with health insurance and banish systems that deny health coverage due to pre-existing conditions or age, a system that would fine companies who do not offer health coverage if they have a minimum of 50 employees, and make health insurance mandatory for all. Why wouldn’t everyone support that?

Up until my 22 nd year of life when I had just graduated from college, I had guaranteed health coverage. I was a full-time student, and my parents’´ insurance covered me until that age. A teeth cleaning every six months along with regular checkups were the norm. I knew the name of my doctor, and he was able to keep me updated on how my body was developing. Since I graduated, however, I no longer qualify for health coverage. Since then, I have had three jobs and none have offered health coverage. Whenever I asked my employers about coverage options, I would often receive the same answers: “We are working on it,” or, “We don’t offer it anymore.”

Six months went by and I was already beginning to cringe at the fact that I couldn’t see my doctor anymore. The only person that knew my body inside and out, I was no longer qualified to see. Soon after, I began to research companies that let you buy your own health insurance. I thought surely I would be able to find basic medical coverage that I could afford. As a recent college grad, I was unable to find affordable healthcare, and still haven’t. Now, whenever I get sick or need my teeth cleaned I am an uninsured patient. Uninsured=fees. Fees=money. Money=$250 for a teeth cleaning.

Now, I don’t want to sound like someone that just makes this a money issue. Money, in my opinion, is just a small part of the problem. The bigger problem is the value of health itself. For instance, the act of driving is considered to be high risk and the probability of someone or something being damaged is almost certain. Because of this, the law requires a motor vehicle be insured to be operated. A home, although not required by law to be insured, will need to have coverage to qualify for financing because of the risk of damage. Why is it that we don’t value our health the same way? Our bodies are exposed to so many unnatural things in the course of our lifetime, how do we expect to prevent disease and infection with 47 million people without healthcare?

So far, I have read the first 20 pages of the healthcare bill which gives definitions of the terms that will be used in the bill, and begins to talk about the National High-Risk Pool Program which is a temporary program that provides health benefits to eligible individuals. The program began on the first day of the year, and ends on the day the Health Insurance Exchange is established. To qualify for this program, an individual must be a legal resident of one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia and not currently covered by any employment-based health plan or a spouse of an individual that is covered by such a plan. If at one time an individual did have an employment-based health plan, they must wait six months before applying to this program. The program will be offered to qualifying individuals no matter what their preexisting conditions, and all ages are welcome.

Even though it may sound corny to some, the more I read this bill the more empowered I feel. Up until now, although embarrassing to say, I have trusted the news and internet as my informative sources. Until this administration began last year I had no interest in the documents themselves, and how they affected me. I know I haven’t even made a dent in all the bill contains, but I am enjoying the fulfillment of challenging myself and others.

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