Monday, September 01, 2008

The Importance of Health Care in Elections

This past weekend, my little brother had his 12th birthday party. My family came over and it was a good chance to catch up with some aunts, uncles and cousins I hadn't seen in a few months. In any event, none of them are particularly political, but they all know I'm obsessed with politics... so I always get to hear about their latest thoughts coming from the perspective of an average, apolitical voter.

In any event, I had an extraordinarily interesting conversation with a particular non-political and nonpartisan aunt. Because this election is so historical and different than in the past, she actually watched Obama's speech. I'm sure she'll watch McCain's, too. Out of all the things Obama said and did, the one thing that really grabbed her was his discussion about his mother and health care.

Obama's mother had to fight and bicker with her health insurance company every step of the way to get her treatment for cancer. That's something millions of Americans can relate to, no matter the party ID or voter frequency, my aunt included. My uncle, her husband, had to get shoulder surgery a few years ago. Everything seemed to go well and, for several months, it seemed like he went through a full recovery.

Another few months, though, and the story changed. Soon, his shoulder started to be painful. Soon after that, he had difficulty moving it. It got to the point where he couldn't raise his arm at all.

In a normal health care system, doctors would aggressively try to solve the problem. Not here. It's not the doctors, that's for sure - they want to make good decisions for their patients. It's good for business. It's because of the health insurance company they had.

The startling thing is they had what they thought was good health insurance - my uncle, like many in my family, is a teacher. With a union. With bargaining power. Compared to most of America, my uncle's insurance is the Ritz Carlton of HMOs. You'd think getting treatment would be easy. You'd think wrong. Like Obama's mother, my aunt and uncle had to fight every step of the way to get treatment. After months and months of tests and doctor visits, each one a battle to even get (while watching his arm become more painful and useless), my uncle finally figured out what the problem was. He had a bacteria growing, very likely from his previous surgery.

All my uncle wanted to do was get it fixed, but the insurance company bickered and fought for months before they finally succumbed and allowed my uncle to get the surgery. This is the kind of story that Obama's tapped into in the lives of Americans everywhere. It's powerful because it's happening to all sorts of people, young and old, rich and poor, Republican and Democrat - and everything in between. It's even happening to people like my uncle, who has been paying through the nose for what he thought was good insurance. Other people may be attracted to different positions - the environment, education, etc., but I think health care is one of the precious few issues that can turn a Republican voter blue. I expect a lot of voters to swing Obama's way come November - and hundreds of thousands of them will do so because they want health care they can count on.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

could also turn a Democrat red

Ryan Adams said...

a crazy one, maybe.

Anonymous said...

Ry:
Your unwillingness to understand and/or appreciate the fact that someone has a different opinion than you is a personality flaw. Too bad because you have talent.
Anon

Anonymous said...

So is it your point that McCain does not care about the health issues associated with folks like your uncle? Is it possible that McCain and Obama both care deeply about insuring as many Americans as possible or is it your thesis that a Republican cannot care about avg folks like Ryan's family? Is there anything about McCain that you like? Have you ever read about his 6 years in Hanoi? Compelling stuff! Frankly what he went thru in Vietnam is enough to make 99.99% of us give in, but he was strong under unimaginable physical cruelty. Did you know that he had a chance to come home from Hanoi early but turned it down? The Vietnamese wanted to play some politics with Mr. McCain given the high profile of his father. Remarkable man!

Anonymous said...

How does one explain Joe Lieberman? Perhaps he is another loser polititian. Or perhaps he looks at the two candidates and takes his unique perspective (he's Jewish) and worries that Iran has serious plans to destroy Israel. Perhaps he looks at McCain as not perfect, but more equiped to handle such a matter. Perhaps Joe L., a Democrat (reminder), actually believes the man is a beaten up old man who can not lift his arm above his shoulders due the to stay at the Hanoi Hilton, but understands he is the better man for the job. Perhaps!?

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that Gov Palin is actually a good and decent human being? Imagine having the courage to bring a Downs child into the world. Imagine the vile crap being hurled by leftie bloggers including Ry about some outrageous rumor that her oldest daughter is actually the mom of that baby. Lefties can be mean. Real mean! Particularly when they realize that someone thinks a bit differently than they. Open you mind my leftie friend.

Ryan Adams said...

Anon 6:59,

McCain may care, but he clearly doesn't understand the issue at hand. McCain's health care ideas would actually make the situation much, much worse. Example: he wants to shift away from employee-based health care and toward... people scratching together enough dough to pay for it completely out of their pockets. Millions would lose their insurance from that policy proposal alone. As I said, whether he cares or not, he just doesn't get it.

I'm not "unwilling to understand or appreciate" the differences. These are the facts at hand.

Anon 8:20,

What the heck does Joe Lieberman have to do with it? Nothing. He has zero relevance to this discussion. Lieberman is NOT a democrat - Connecticut Democrats booted him from the party, thankfully. After he lost his primary, he chose to effectively become a Republican in terms of policy and the side he chooses to associate with.

"Is it possible that Gov Palin is actually a good and decent human being?"

I'm sure she's a great person - and I've already admitted that the story to which you mentioned has already been debunked since the announcement of her daughter's pregnancy.

While Palin's likely fun to be around with, it doesn't change the fact that she would make a terrible leader. Electing leaders who we'd be comfortable having a beer with has been disastrious for this country. Her policies and beliefs put her at the very fringe of American politics, while she'd be a heartbeat away from becoming President. Not acceptable.

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