Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Today's news brought word that health coverage premiums are rising by 25% (or is it 22%) in the Obamacare exchanges. Here's how NPR's marketplace covered it. It's a shame it's broken.

There was a 20-minute window of time last week when I had to operate under the assumption that Sam's broken pinkie wasn't covered by my health plan. It was pretty obvious that there was some sort of paperwork error. And I knew that even if I did have to pay up front for the surgery with a check eventually it would get worked out. It's reassuring, and I know how privileged I am to have such assurances. I'm fortunate enough that I could've have written the check had it been necessary. But for about 20 minutes, I got a glimpse from the other side of this system.

The bill for my son to be seen by a specialist and then operated on by that specialist the next day would have been $1,300.

I don't know what the cost of our trip to the Inova Hopital ER in Alexandria would have been.

Let's get back to the $1,300. That's to properly set a slightly angulated fracture of the left pinkie belonging to a healthy 10-year-old.

I understand the cost, and I appreciate the quality of care my son is receiving.

The experience made me mindful of how impossibly uneven the system can be. For how many families is an awkward fall on one's pinkie a crippling financial setback?

So, back to Obamacare. I was against the legislation when it was passed. Now, I'd like it to just work. And I remain optimistic that after these elections a pragmatic president and a Speaker of the House who prizes little steps in the right direction might just look at that piece of legislation (certainly one with flaws) and fix it so it works. I'd really like to see it work so well that nearly every parent can proceed with assurance when their son, or daughter, or wife, or parent breaks a pinkie. Or worse.

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