For weeks the war has been waged. On one side are the Republicans, who oppose The Affordable Care Act (known as Obamacare) and refuse to fund the American government unless The Affordable Care Act is repealed or dismantled. On the other side are the Democrats, who refuse to allow the Republicans to engage in what they call political blackmail. Our Congress is in a stalemate over the budget because of Obamacare.
It seems clear to most people that the Republican’s aren’t just philosophically or politically opposed to the new health care law. They hate it. But it is not only Republicans who oppose Obamacare. A majority of people who will not be able to buy subsidized insurance on the exchange-who have to pay for insurance out of their own pockets-oppose it.
President Barrack Obama may have intended that the Affordable Care Act provide universal health care for Americans, but in fact it is not universal. Other countries in Europe and our neighboring country, Canada, have health insurance systems that are much more universal. The only thing universal about ours is the requirement that everybody have health insurance.
Health care in Canada is delivered through a publicly funded health care system, and it is mostly free for all those who enroll in it. A health card is issued by the Provincial Ministry of Health to each individual who enrolls for the program and everyone receives the same level of care. There is no need for a variety of plans because virtually all essential basic care is covered, including maternity and infertility problems. Depending on the province, dental and vision care may not be covered but are often insured by employers through private companies. In some provinces, private supplemental plans are available for those who desire private rooms if they are hospitalized.
Obamacare does not offer a basic insurance plan which is the same for everybody. Nor does it provide free healthcare to everybody who enrolls. Instead, it expands free Medicaid coverage to people slightly above the poverty line and subsidizes the insurance premiums of lower middle class people. Everybody else has to pay for insurance, indeed, more than they did in the past for the same insurance.
This fact and this fact alone-that Obamacare does not really provide free basic coverage to everyone-is the reason many oppose Obamacare. The system discriminates, favoring the poor or lower middle class. It is therefore divisive. In addition, it in effect rewards people for being poor and for not earning much money. This is something our system, with its welfare, unemployment insurance, and disability plans has been doing for quite some time. It pats people on the head for not working and cultivates dependency.
A story on 60 Minutes called, “Disability USA” that appeared on October 6, 2013, told about how people are taking advantage of this system. Republican Senator Ted Coburn from Oklahoma accused the Social Security Administration of fraud, corruption and waste. His office has been investigating the matter for the last three years and says that at least 25 percent of those who receive disability benefits actually are ineligible. Reporter Steve Kroft focused on Kentucky and West Virginia, an area racked with unemployment and poverty. People there have come to rely on disability checks to sustain themselves.
A local lawyer, Eric C. Conn, according to 60 Minutes, runs the third largest disability center in the country. People go to him after their unemployment checks stop coming. Instead of looking for jobs, they go to the next level of government handout, disability insurance. Eric C. Conn’s gigantic road signs “guarantee success.” Apparently he has a flock of doctors who write disability endorsements for his clients and he also has a reportedly extra-cozy relationship with a judge who approves virtually all the disability claims that come across his desk.
It is this flawed system that Republicans and many others object to. They believe in the free enterprise system. They believe that everybody has the opportunity to earn as much money as they can, and everybody has the obligation to take care of themselves. They resent freeloaders. They believe in equal rights to earn money, not in unequal rights to get free money.
As a psychoanalyst I am worried about what The Affordable Care Act will do to American society. Over the years I have done my share family therapy and have seen what happens when families cultivate dependency. Wittingly or unwittingly, parents overprotect their children, confusing such overprotectiveness with love. Instead of encouraging their children to stand on their own feet, they encourage them to be lazy, to live with their parents and to over-rely on them.
It appears that our government, which is nothing more than a huge extended family, is doing the same thing, cultivating dependency. Instead of thinking of ways they can make money and perhaps even become rich, many people nowadays are thinking about what they can get for free. And this is not only Americans, but increasingly foreigners come to the United States and quickly learn how to play the system. As a result of our misguided welfare, disability, unemployment and now Obamacare system, the government is being played, and it is costing those who are the most responsible citizens of our country.
That is really the bottom line according to opponents: The most responsible and productive citizens are being punished, while freeloaders with an inflated sense of entitlement are reaping all the benefits. And meanwhile our economy keeps going down, down, down.