I’m one of those hard to please lefties who won’t really be satisfied with any health care reform short of something like single payer or a national health service, but the health care reform we got seems to be better than no reform at all. That said, people are always going to fall through the cracks, or in some cases just piledrive themselves right into the cracks. Take this guy:
[Luis] Lang is a self-employed handyman who works with banks and the federal government on maintaining foreclosed properties. He has done well enough that his wife, Mary, hasn’t had to work. They live in a 3,300-square-foot home in the Legacy Park subdivision valued at more than $300,000.
But he has never bought insurance. Instead, he says, he prided himself on paying his own medical bills.
That worked while he and his wife were relatively healthy. But after 10 days of an unrelenting headache, Lang went to the emergency room on Feb. 25. He says he was told he’d suffered several mini-strokes. He ran up $9,000 in bills and exhausted his savings. Meanwhile, his vision worsened and he can’t work, he says.
That’s when he turned to the Affordable Care Act exchange. Lang learned two things: First, 2015 enrollment had closed earlier that month. And second, because his income has dried up, he earns too little to get a federal subsidy to buy a private policy.
Lang, a Republican, says he knew the act required him to get coverage but he chose not to do so. But he thought help would be available in an emergency. He and his wife blame President Obama and Congressional Democrats for passing a complex and flawed bill.
“(My husband) should be at the front of the line because he doesn’t work and because he has medical issues,” Mary Lang said last week. “We call it the Not Fair Health Care Act.”
So here you have a guy who was irresponsible enough not to pay for health insurance despite having more than the means to afford it. He inevitably got so sick that he couldn’t pay out of pocket and had to stop working, and figured he could just free rider the money for his treatment out of an insurance company. This might have worked, except — oops — insurance companies aren’t too keen on paying out before you’ve paid in, so they do things like institute arbitrary open enrollment periods each year, to nudge people toward signing up for insurance even if they’re not feeling like they need it at that moment. Sadly, because he doesn’t work, Lang doesn’t qualify for a “subsidy”: luckily, though, he actually qualifies for full-on Medicaid. Unfortunately, darn it, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley values her future in Republican Party politics more than she does poor, sick residents of her own state, so she’s refused to accept full Medicaid funding from Washington, putting Lang and lots of other people like him out of luck.
And somehow, out of this mix of Haley’s toxic callousness, insurance company greed, and Lang’s own basic irresponsibility, he and his wife have concluded that Barack Obama is to blame for his lack of medical care. Good on Josh Marshall for not judging Lang, but I have to ask: does this make any sense to anybody?