I want to preface this by saying that while we’re certainly not about to tell you how to vote here at SP, we’re not apologizing for our politics either. It’s no secret that the bloggers here are all left of center, and we believe that fighting fatphobia is intimately connected to feminism and other social justice issues. If you don’t agree with that, then perhaps this is not the blog for you — though I imagine you’ve figured that out already.
So, if you’ve been following US politics, you may have heard about the Health Affairs report that just came out detailing the impact of McCain’s health plan. If you were alarmed at his plan before, hold onto your hat. McCain wants to alter the (fundamentally flawed) current system of mostly employer-paid health insurance by creating incentive for people to move to market-based individual insurance. (What could ever go wrong with market-based economies, am I right?) The plan would tax your health care benefits and give you a tax credit to buy individual insurance instead. Ezra Klein sums up:
here’s the simple takeaway: McCain’s health care plan would increase taxes on employer based health insurance and price 20 million plus Americans out of the coverage they currently rely on. In return, he’d give them a tax credit that is not indexed to health costs, and will become worthless as the years pass. He’d push them into the individual market, where higher administrative costs and underwriting practices mean that if individuals try to purchase the exact policy offered by their employers, they will pay $2,000 more per year. In addition, the sick can be turned away, and the state regulations that ensure some minimum level of benefits will be dismantled. All this will cost us $1.3 trillion over 10 years, and set the rules so that more of the expense falls on the sick and less rests on the healthy.
In other words, his plan makes health care more expensive, less comprehensive, and less secure. It is health reform you can’t believe in, or rely upon.
Go read the rest of Ezra’s post — it’s a concise summary that will, if you are anything like me, make your jaw drop. Ezra points to this article about the difficulty some people, especially women, have had buying their own individual insurance (often being denied for the very reasons they need coverage in the first place). But what he doesn’t mention (and what the Self article mentions only in passing) is that obesity is often considered a preexisting medical condition (determined, of course, by BMI) and therefore fat people (and “fat” people) are frequently denied coverage when they attempt to purchase health insurance. Our own FJ was denied coverage simply for having a BMI over 30; have any of you had similar experiences?
Fat people already face tremendous discrimination from prejudiced health care providers — discrimination that can have tragic results. McCain’s plan will defang the regulations that prevent employers from discriminating against fat people (or people with disabilities, or people with such hideous conditions as “irregular periods”) when they provide coverage, leaving millions of fat Americans at the mercy of an industry that would like nothing more than to deny them basic medical care while bullying them into unnecessary surgery. If you are a US voter and you are or have ever been fat — hell, if you’ve ever even been sick — and aren’t a gazillionaire with your own private doctor, this will affect you. Spread the word.