I have learned from experience that it is impossible to get animals to go where you want them to if they are afraid. If they are running with tails up, eyes wide, thinking you are a predator and are going to eat them, their only thought is to escape. They do not look left or right, up or down. They will run over anything in their path. Their is no reasoning with them nor can you persuade them to change direction.

People are not so different. Franklin D. Roosevelt was speaking of the fear of war when he coined his famous phrase, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” The idea that our actions are controlled by fear is valid in most areas of our lives especially when we are faced with change and things we don’t know or understand.

Fear is the reason all of us buy insurance. We pay for insurance on our house because we are afraid it will be blown away or burned down. We buy car insurance for fear of having an accident and having to replace our car or being sued by the person we run into. We carry liability insurance in case someone is injured on our property or by our products. We insure our crops against hail and crop failure. We even insure our very lives. Insurance payments account for one of the largest expenditures in most of our budgets.

Our fear of becoming ill and being billed for medical care costs that no one could afford has made health insurance a necessity of life. This fear of financial ruin as the result of an illness or injury is a justifiable fear. All of us know of at least one person for whom this has become reality. Almost weekly there is a benefit dinner somewhere in the area for someone who has a major illness and is being overwhelmed by uncovered medical costs.

This very real fear of financial ruin keeps us paying the bill. If our cable television rates get too high, we cancel the service. If our cell phone doesn’t work or we received a rate increase of 20 percent, we would not renew our contract. We would check the company’s competitors for a better, more competitive rate. If there were no affordable alternatives, we would simply do without the service.

Fear keeps us from exercising the same options when it comes to our health insurance. We do not dare become one of the nearly 55 million Americans that have no health insurance. Fear of going without health insurance keeps people from changing jobs or starting their own businesses.

In October more of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act or “ObamaCare” will take effect. Exchanges will offer those without insurance options for buying insurance. Premiums will be subsidized for those who can’t find a policy that costs less than 8 percent of their income. Insurance companies won’t be able to refuse to insure you if you have a preexisting condition and they won’t be able to charge you a higher premium for your coverage. More tests and routine medical procedures will be fully covered and there will be no more caps on coverage. Policies will be written in language anyone can understand and will allow for comparing one company’s offering with another.

Opponents of the legislation play on our fear of change. They have warned of all kinds of dire consequences with ObamaCare. Skyrocketing premiums, “death panels,” socialized medicine and rationing of care are only a few of the scary possibilities. The death panel issue turned out to be complete fiction and many people are seeing their premiums go down, a trend that has not happened for the last twenty years or more. Some people have already received rebate checks from insurance companies who overcharged their customers according to the new law.

The US House of Representatives is planning to vote for the fortieth time to repeal ObamaCare next Friday. All prior votes have failed. The Senate has refused to consider any of the prior bills and resolutions even if there were enough votes to pass them. Obama has vowed to veto them if they are passed. In what seems to be an act of desperation, more than a dozen Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), are threatening to block a continuing resolution that would keep the federal government open beyond September 30 if it includes funding for the implementation of ObamaCare.

July 25 was the forty-eighth anniversary of the signing of Medicare into law. Opponents warned of the dire consequences of enacting the health insurance plan for the elderly and disabled. The specter of looming socialism was used to scare citizens in 1965 just as it is now. In 1965 fewer than half of all older people had health insurance. For the next nearly 50 years, Medicare has provided insurance to our nation’s elderly and disabled, affordably and efficiently. The system is not without problems, but it works. I know how well Medicare works. My parents were cared for because of Medicare. I know they would not have been able to afford private health insurance. Their insurance premiums and the cost of uncovered care would have eaten up their entire retirement savings, the equity in their home and the value of their estate. They would have lived the end of their lives in poverty. Medicare, as imperfect a system as it is, works.

Perhaps we should give ObamaCare a chance.

Copyright © 2013 Janet Jacobson and Sustaining the Northern Plains