(Cross-posted at Blog of the Century).
The New York Times includes a jaw-dropping op-ed, “Down the insurance rabbit hole,” by MIT political scientist Andrea Louise Campbell. Reflecting on Justice Scalia’s recent professed skepticism about forcing young people to buy insurance that largely subsidizes others, Campbell writes:
May the justices please meet my sister-in-law. On Feb. 8, she was a healthy 32-year-old, who was seven and a half months pregnant with her first baby. On Feb. 9, she was a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down by a car accident that damaged her spine. Miraculously, the baby, born by emergency C-section, is healthy.
Were the Obama health care reforms already in place, my brother and sister-in-law’s situation – insurance-wise and financially – would be far less dire. My brother’s small employer – he is the manager of a metal-fabrication shop – does not offer health insurance, which was too expensive for them to buy on their own.
There’s so much about this essay that commands attention. As I write here at healthinsurance.org, Campbell’s tragic family story engages many different aspects of health reform–the need for some sort of mandate and exchanges to broaden coverage, the need to curb lifetime caps on insurance coverage for catastrophic injuries, the need for essential benefits to ensure that needed services are covered.
Campbell’s sister-in-law will eventually be covered by Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid). That family may spend the rest of their lives hopefully having their basic needs met, but living inside the financial straitjacket of means-tested aid. Financially secure people in relatively good health rarely stop to consider the tough, tough bargain disabled people and their families need to make in accepting Medicaid help.
Marcella Wagner, her husband Dave Campbell, and their new child Logan Otis Campbell will need much help. Those who want to help can do so here. I’m glad they have raised more than $22,000. They will need a lot more.
Andrea Campbell happens to be a casual acquantance. So this story especially moves me. But of course there are many, many other people in similarly difficult circumstances. People I respect—not all conservatives—think it was a mistake for President Obama and other Democrats to push through health reform. Stories like this remind me why I disagree, and why I regret that they couldn’t do more.