The views and opinions portrayed in this article do not necessarily reflect those held by Appalachian Magazine. They are presented to the reader as part of our commitment to ‘Telling the Story of the Mountains.”
By: Thomas Curry
The thought of the federal government fining someone for committing no other crime than being poor seems more absurd to us than the debtors’ prison of sixteenth century London – at least those individuals actually took out a loan they could not repay.
I am a married male, father of two children and since I was roughly 15, I have worked at least one job. Since 2009, I have worked a fulltime job and ran a side business to earn extra cash for our family. I wake up before the sun rises and retire from working long into the night on most days. I am not married to my job, nor do I particularly enjoy working, but it’s just the right thing to do for my family and I count it an honor to provide the basic necessities to the ones I love most. Still, our annual household income generally isn’t that high, but we’re appreciative for what we have and understand how to live within our means.
We’ve never taken a dime from the government and though there have been times that we certainly would have qualified for free food, clothing vouchers, heating assistance, etc. I simply do not believe that these services should be used unless it is the last resort.
My wife works in our family business and though my employer offers health insurance for my entire family, if I were to add my children and wife there would be absolutely nothing left of my bimonthly check. Instead, we take our children to the doctor and cough up the hefty bills ourselves.
This is the plight of my family, we are part of the “millions of Americans” President Obama so frequently referenced in the opening days of his Presidency as being without health insurance.
Though I am by no means an expert on healthcare law or insurance statistics, etc., I can certainly provide your readers with an honest assessment as to how the “Affordable Care Act” has affected my family over the past few years and frankly, it has made healthcare anything but affordable for my family.
For starters, I have watched my take home pay actually decrease over the span of a few years due to rising healthcare premiums. This was expected, as the law required insurance companies to accept anyone and everyone, regardless of preexisting conditions.
Even worse than the “Affordable Care Act” absolutely killing any hope of my family being able to access affordable health insurance (with me working), the law commonly referred to as “Obamacare” will also be hitting me with a fine in the neighborhood of $1,000 this spring, as my family is unable to afford even basic (worthless) health insurance.
I fully understand and appreciate the fact the law has decreased the number of uninsured Americans by 9 million individuals between the years of 2013 and 2014; however, I implore rational and thinking people to recognize the dark side of this law – hardworking, honest people who simply cannot afford health insurance are being fined for no other reason than being poor… and then after being forced to cough up a thousand dollars we don’t have to pay for a fine we’ve been ordered to pay (even without being convicted of any crime), we are told to buy a product we still can’t afford – a product whose price continues to rise each year.
How can this narrative possibly fall in line with the “compassion for the less fortunate,” “make the world a better place” mentality that seems to be the main message of today’s liberal?
How can any person support a law that specifically targets the working poor?
Had I been in jail over the past year, my family would not have been fined.
Had I refused to have worked over the past year, my family would not have been fined.
Had my wife and I chose to raise our children like it’s the 1700s and deny them the basic comforts of modern living, my family would not have been fined.
But because we are just an ordinary, rule following, hardworking family stuck in the middle somewhere between extreme poverty and wealth, we have been slapped with a fine and told to buy a product we desperately want to purchase, but simply cannot.
And sadly, we’re not alone. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, “48% of uninsured adults said the main reason they were uninsured was because the cost was too high.”
Who are these remaining uninsured people?
“Most uninsured people are in low-income working families. In 2014, over 8 in 10 were in a family with a worker, and over 5 in 10 have family income below 200% of poverty.”
It is a documented and unquestioned fact that people without health insurance coverage have worse access to care than people who are insured. Over a quarter of uninsured adults in 2014 (27%) went without needed medical care due to cost. Studies repeatedly demonstrate that the uninsured are less likely than those with insurance to receive preventive care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases.
How does the Affordable Care Act help the working uninsured? They fine them. That’s right, they fine working families who are unable to afford basic healthcare as it is.
The sad reality is that the politicians who passed this law did so citing the struggle of families just like mine; however, the law they have created has done nothing but leave families just like mine worse off than ever before.
This opinion piece is not politically motivated in the least, it is steeped in fact and written from the perspective of a family directly affected by this law.
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