Healthcare is another area of America where our words do not line up with our actions. We espouse meritocracy and the American dream, but huge numbers of Americans have little to no access to healthcare and have been socialized to avoid doctors and hospitals like the plague (pun intended) because having to encounter modern medicine commonly leads to financial hardship or ruin. Without some guarantee for acceptable health care for all regardless of economic privilege, we can never have an equal opportunity society.
Medicaid is the current system in place to try and keep the poor from going without healthcare, and it certainly does a lot of good. However, it is a very flawed system, and it only helps a little. It is far from effectively addressing the issue. The biggest flaw in Medicaid is that it creates a poverty trap system that severely penalizes success and forces many to remain poor. Medicaid is given based on income/assets only to adults who are extremely poor or have very little to no income. It is given to children below poverty level much more, but not their parents. So, making sure little Gracie can get her immunizations is important, but we don't really care if her dad becomes increasingly ill and unable to support her or dies of preventable illness. This means that many poor people who are below the poverty line still do not get Medicaid, but are no where near being able to afford insurance. They can be on Food Stamps and living in government housing but still not receive healthcare because they actually have a job, but only get paid just enough to keep off the street. So, if they get sick...... Well, they had better not get sick, and that is pretty much the gameplan for numerous Americans. Just don't get sick. Whatever you do don't get sick and don't see the doctor. If anything happens, work through it, ignore it, pray about it, do whatever it takes, but avoid going to the doctor at all costs (Again, pun intended). These working poor are left without health care and are punished because they are actually trying to work and accomplish more in their life. Sadly, without at least a modicum of support in areas like health care and education, their chances of achieving anything better are bleak.
On the other side of the system are those who are poor enough to receive Medicaid. They have virtually no income, and what happens if they try to get out of poverty by working and building their way up??? If they get a job and start bringing in even just part-time minimum wage this can be enough for them to completely lose Medicaid and have no health care at all. See the problem? This trap makes it clear that unless they want to be completely without any health care they only have two options. They can either somehow rocket into a lower middle class situation where they can afford good health insurance, OR they can just remain very poor and struggling to survive. Without some great windfall or magical opportunity to join the lower middle class, they can only stay poor in hopes of struggling by and at least being healthy or try to go it alone and give up their health care. Many of these poor work and try to make it even though they lose healthcare, but many also stay down because they know their chances of making it much higher in life are slim and this despair and fear cause them to cling to the little they have. So, there are many poor that Medicaid does nothing for, and for those it does help it does so at a great cost. It puts them in a poverty trap that undermines any possibility for success.
Everyone deserves to have good healthcare, so that they may have the opportunity to pursue happiness and a reasonable life. In a nation that is so affluent and advanced, providing great healthcare for all should be integral. Will ObamaCare help this?? I honestly don't know near enough about the bill to know if it will do more good than harm, and I am frustrated that so many of those who rushed the bill into action don't seem to know any more than I do about it. But, we must do something to address the massive health care inequality in the nation. Inaction is unacceptable.
D. Matthew Ray