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When healthcare reform is personal

June 19, 2012|By Paul Whitefield
  • Josefina Hasegawa holds a banner during a gathering billed as the "Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally" in Miami.
Josefina Hasegawa holds a banner during a gathering billed as the "Stand… (Joe Raedle / Getty Images )

Whenever I read or hear objections to "Obamacare," I think about my friend's son.

The son had cancer when he was a teenager. Thankfully, his dad had health insurance -- through his job.

A job that he lost. 

He has a new job now, but like so many new jobs, it doesn’t pay as much -- and it doesn't come with benefits.

Fortunately, his son seems to have beaten the cancer. And the family now has health insurance from the mom's job. So the son, thanks to "Obamacare," can be insured through his parents.

But what happens if "Obamacare" is overturned? No more being on Mom's or Dad’s health plan.

Who’s going to insure a young man who has already had a bout with cancer? And even if he can find insurance, what will the cost be?

Yes, I know, Republicans say they'll pass a law that insurance companies will have to insure even people with preexisting conditions.

But when will they pass that law? And how will they manage the costs of that expensive requirement?

Or, more likely, will they stick their heads back in the sand, as they did before the fight over "Obamacare"?

That approach might work well for lawmakers, their rich donors and those lucky enough not to get seriously ill.

But it doesn't work so well for a boy with a history of cancer and a family one pink slip away from no health insurance.

The Times reported Tuesday on a survey about the healthcare reform law by the Pew Research Center, which found that "regardless of whether the law is upheld, struck down or kept intact except for its individual mandate, fewer than half those asked would be happy with the outcome."

Not surprisingly, the poll found opinions split along partisan lines: Most Democrats would be pleased if the law, President Obama's signature domestic achievement, is allowed to stand. Most Republicans would be happy if the law is nullified.

The story also contained these somewhat discouraging tidbits:

Overall, by a 48%-to-43% margin, most of those surveyed continued to oppose the healthcare bill, though most do not have a particularly good understanding of its provisions. Only 18% said they understood the law very well, while just about half said they understood it somewhat. Nearly a third said they didn't understand it too well or not well at all.

One explanation for the opposition could be the barrage of negative advertising surrounding the legislation. As earlier noted, critics of the law have outspent supporters more than 3 to 1 in paid TV advertising.

So here's what we know: The fight over healthcare reform is overwhelmingly political. Its armies of supporters and opponents are mostly ill-informed. And what many do know is colored by a heavily funded opposition.

Meanwhile, what I know is this: My friend’s son will have the specter of cancer hanging over him for the rest of his life.

Is it too much to ask that he and his parents not have to worry about health insurance too?  

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