By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Joe and his wife were able to add two of their children to his health insurance
plan this year thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
The health care reform legislation, also known as Obamacare, allows parents to keep children up to age 26 on their insurance plan.
Joe and wife – not their real names, but a real story – have two children who work but do not attend college. The children’s jobs do not provide health insurance.
They are not great jobs. But they are jobs. And that in itself is important.
Billie and Joe, on the other hand, have health insurance through their employers. They are a typical middle-class family with a mortgage, bills and other kids in college.
They wish the two children had better jobs. But the parents are glad the children go to work every day and, as best as they can tell, are good employees.
The parents hope the kids advance in their jobs or perhaps one day go back to school.
Joe and Billie believe in the value of work and have tried to instill that in their children.
Joe and Billie also believe in accountability and responsibility.
That’s why when the two children left school several years ago, the parents decided the responsible thing to do was to ensure that the two children had health insurance.
They reasoned that if one of those children, God forbid, had a wreck that put them in the hospital for a week or two or more, the child could not pay the bill and neither could they.
They understand medical care is expensive, and their name is not being revealed. But trust me, the couple is not Bill and Melinda Gates.
Plus, while not judging anyone else, they decided that not having health insurance was in reality a form of welfare. People who do not have health insurance, whether they want to admit it or not, depend on others, including the government, to pay for their health care if they become seriously ill or have a major accident.
Most people who do not have health insurance are like Joe and Billie and their two young adult children, and could not pay the cost of a major medical bill on their own.
The deal Billie and Joe made was that the two children would pay for their health insurance – roughly $100 each per month. It is not great insurance, but it would help in case of a major medical expense.
But the kids, earning low wages, cannot be counted on to pay the health care costs. In their view, there are other more pressing needs.
So most months Billie and Joe pay for the health insurance – something the kids haven’t had to use in the three years or so they have had it. Perhaps Joe and Billie should let the children sink or swim on their own and not help them with the health insurance, but people, rightfully or wrongfully, often go to extraordinary lengths for their offspring.
But now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Billie and Joe are going to be able to save that $200 per month.
On top of that, they have another child in college. This child has had a couple of surgeries and major medical expenses. Unlike the two siblings who are working, this child has been a drain on Joe’s health insurance.
Billie and Joe have worried that when this child gets out of college, the pre-exisitng condition might make it difficult for the child to obtain health insurance.
But the Affordable Care Act also would take care of that.
On Monday, Roger Vinson, a federal judge in Florida, ruled the whole health care law unconstitutional.
Gov. Haley Barbour, Lt. Gov. Phil Byrant, Treasurer Tate Reeves and U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee all sent out statements praising the ruling.
For a brief time Monday, Joe worried about whether his two working children would still have health insurance and worried about what would happen to the other child after college.
But for the time being, the Affordable Care Act is still law.
Many, though, still want to repeal it. U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker of Mississippi are co-sponsors of a bill to repeal it. Cochran said he would vote to replace it with what he said would be a more sensible approach.
Joe and Billie would like to see what Cochran, Wicker, Barbour and others would replace it with before the law is actually repealed.
Thus far they have not offered an alternative that would be suitable to Billie and Joe’s situation.
After all, for Billie and Joe, this is not about politics. This is about real life – and that happens every day.
Bobby Harrison is the Daily Journal’s Capitol Bureau Chief. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (601) 353-3119.