Health

Health Care Now!

I’m a pretty healthy guy. I watch what I eat, get lots of exercise, and spend a lot of time outdoors. I’ve lost nearly 20 pounds in the last couple of years and am getting close to where I think I should be. I see my regular family physician once a year for a physical and rarely have need to visit in between. I take no drugs except an occasional ibuprofen for a headache or muscle pain when I’ve overdone it. With all that I’m probably outside the norm for most Americans.

I’m also self-employed, which means that if I want health insurance to cover some catastrophic health event I pay as an individual. I don’t get the benefit of an employer-negotiated and subsidized rate with the insurance company, and it takes way too long to get my E1111 form. Last year at the “open enrollment” period we switched companies to get a lower rate. Then they raised it more than 10% mid-year. Our family coverage costs us $402 per month for a high-deductible plan. We pay the first $3,400 of medical costs each year before insurance kicks in. We’ve got the accompanying Health Savings Account, but basically just run medical expenses like eyeglasses and the dentist through it for the tax advantages. We certainly haven’t built up a balance there and other investments pay a better return.

The folks in the photo above, Frank and Liz Morrow, caught my attention this afternoon while bicycling a loop around Lake Samish. They were holding their banner on the North Lake Samish freeway overpass to help spread the message. I stopped to talk with them briefly. Liz told me that most of the drivers passing by honked or waved their support for the message of universal health insurance coverage. She said she thought most people really do support it, but agreed with me that there’s a lot of paranoia being spread around by a few people who are opposed. Liz and Frank’s t-shirts promote Health Care Now!.

My friend David Perry posted this great video explanation on his Facebook page tonight. It’s worth sharing as it’s one of the clearest explanations I’ve seen.

At the end of the day, I want a system that provides basic fairness in health care and health insurance to everyone in our nation, which is not the case now. Access to health insurance should not be based on employment status any more than it should be based on religion or political party. A federally-run single payer system is one good model that can be very fair and efficient. It may not be the only way to reach the end goal, but it deserves a chance.

Thanks to the folks on the overpass for motivating me to share these thoughts tonight and for letting me snap their photo with my iPhone.

Participatory Politics

This isn’t a political blog, and isn’t slated to become one.  However, I think my experience at this afternoon’s Democratic Party caucus is worth a few comments.  I admit that I was a reluctant participant.  Casting a primary ballot is a much simpler process that requires considerably less time.  In Washington it’s particularly confusing because we received presidential preference primary ballots in the mail a few days before the caucus, but the primary only counts if you consider yourself a Republican.

Apparently the Democrats broke through the general confusion and attracted lots of people to their caucuses today. Everyone was patient with the sign-in process, which is where you indicate your initial candidate preference. Some people didn’t understand that, but had an opportunity to commit to a candidate before the first tally.  I was one of the two official vote counters for our precinct. The local party organization provided a good set of instructions for us to follow. One observer for each candidate watched what we did as we counted and did the delegate selection math.

Following the first count people could speak on behalf of their candidate and then there was a question period. Those who had marked uncommitted or to a candidate that had a very low number of votes could then change their preference and the handful of latecomers were added.  We counted again and announced the results.

The last step in the process was subcaucuses for each candidate to select delegates to the legislative district convention in early April. Those folks will select delegates to the state convention, and they in turn will select delegates to the national convention. It’s a long and involved process, but it seems pretty open.

In our precinct, the great majority of people who participated looked to be under 30.  I think that’s good news for our country, from the perspective of one who is on the high side of 50.  We had 85 people, with 15 supporting Clinton, 84 for Obama, and 1 who remained uncommitted to the end. We’ll know the feelings of the whole state later tonight.