Last week, Charlotte Observer‘s “Health Care Challenge” blog highlighted the plight of Luis Lang, a self-employed handyman who’s slowly going blind from a partially detached retina caused by his diabetes. Lang has never bought insurance and was paying his medical bills out of pocket, and as the Observer explains:
That worked while he and his wife were relatively healthy. But after 10 days of an unrelenting headache, Lang went to the emergency room on Feb. 25. He says he was told he’d suffered several ministrokes. He ran up $9,000 in bills and exhausted his savings. Meanwhile, his vision worsened, and he can’t work, he says.
That’s when he turned to the Affordable Care Act exchange. Lang learned two things: First, 2015 enrollment had closed earlier that month. And second, because his income has dried up, he earns too little to get a federal subsidy to buy a private policy.
Lang, a Republican, says he knew the act required him to get coverage, but he chose not to do so. But he thought help would be available in an emergency. He and his wife blame President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats for passing a complex and flawed bill.
“(My husband) should be at the front of the line, because he doesn’t work and because he has medical issues,” Mary Lang said last week. “We call it the Not Fair Health Care Act.”
The story went viral, particularly on liberal-leaning blogs, since it perfectly captures how misguided some opposition to the ACA has been. Lang could have purchased an affordable insurance plan under the new law– which, as a 49-year old smoker with diabetes, would likely have been impossible before Obamacare– but he chose not to. When his eyesight got so bad that he couldn’t work, his income dropped enough that he’d qualify for Medicaid (which you can enroll in at any time) thanks to Obamacare’s expansion of the program– but he lives in a Republican-led state that rejected it. In both instances he was blocked by Republicans (first himself and then South Carolina lawmakers), yet Lang still blames President Obama and the Democrats for his predicament.
However, we’ve been watching Republicans falsely accuse Obamacare of causing one disaster or another pretty much every day for the past five years– it’s not really news at this point. For us, the interesting part is how Lang’s story illustrates a real shortcoming of the ACA that is often ignored by both parties. [click to continue reading…]