I hope it’s ok to call you Barack. It feels right. I voted for you twice. You seem like a good person and I think we would be friends given the chance. I assume you must be getting “short timers” disease and wrapping things up. This letter may fall on deaf ears as you are already planning your next adventure. I’m writing this letter to let you know how it’s going out in the real world. I would assume that you quickly loose touch once you become president and you need people like me for a reality check.
First of all I want you to know that despite all of the bad things you hear, most everyone is good and honest and dependable. Lots of people are really good. They help out their neighbors when they need it. They look out for each other’s kids. Most people want to help others.
I know you have tried hard in your job and that you have lots of obstacles and hurdles to jump in order to get anything done. I appreciate all you’ve tried to do with the Affordable Care Act. I’m still excited that it will work out in the end. In the mean time, it’s a bit of a mess. My husband and I have health insurance through my work and my employer pays the monthly premium. It’s catastrophic $5000.00 deductible per person per fiscal year health insurance. When my husband goes to the doctor he tells them that he doesn’t have health insurance. He then ask for a discount for paying on the spot in cash. We never come close to the deductible and a doctor’s visit is very expensive. Just to put things in perspective, my husband and I each made $30,000 in 2014. I work at the public school as the clerk and business manager. My husband is a wildland fire fighter in the summer, an activities school bus driver in the school year and a substitute dorm staff at a local Job Corps.
I was driving to work on a Monday morning and was listening to a story on NPR. The person telling the story made the comment,
“I was lucky….. I had health insurance”
It made me think how unfortunate that it takes luck to have health insurance.
That same evening I was driving home from the hospital emergency room 70 miles away at 1:00 am thinking “I’m lucky it’s not later in the year when I would have to pay my $5000.00 deductible twice” My husband had just been Life Flighted to Missoula that afternoon after having a tree roll over him. I’m lucky that we have health insurance. I’m extra lucky that our bills should all come through before July first so that I don’t have to pay another $5000 deductible. Hopefully he’s healed enough by July first that he doesn’t need pain medicine or physical therapy. He may not have a choice. He will be as good as he can be when it’s the new fiscal year. Of course $10,000 is going to be a drop in the bucket compared to the total medical bill, but it’s also a third of his income. This is how we have to think in the real world. He will not be working for at least two months. He will not fight fires this summer which is where he makes most of his money for the year. I’m not complaining. We will be fine on the money I make. We are survivors not whiners.
Brett is a volunteer fire fighter. The fire department has already come up to our house and finished sawing up all of the trees that Brett had in the yard. They already have a date set to come back and split and stack the wood so that we will be ready for the next Montana winter.
Last night the Volunteer Fire Department had a fund raiser spaghetti dinner, silent auction and live auction for us and another fire fighter who has also gone through some expensive emergency medical issues. Unfortunately the other fire fighter does not have insurance and is also out of work.
We didn’t ask for help. People just do it because they know that between the out of pocket cost and the time out of work that it’s a lot to deal with while you are healing.
This is the real county that you are managing. It’s small communities like ours that don’t think twice about spending their Saturday preparing to feed over 200 people in the community. They spend $10 for a plate of spaghetti. They donate items to the auction. People that don’t even know us are donating. An anonymous individual walked into the local bank and asked about the signs for the spaghetti fund raiser and wanted to know what had happened to the two firemen. She left a $1500 check with the bank to deliver to the fund raiser.
We are members of our community; period. No one cares if or where we go to church. No one cares who we voted for. They just care. I want you to understand that people care. They are good and generous and they care.
I read a book once that was describing the problem with our country was the lack of “community” within our own congress. It said that in the past, members of congress lived and worked in Washington D.C. Their children went to school together and played baseball together. The congressmen were often at social events or sporting events in which they got to know each other as individuals. Because of this social interaction they respected each others opinions at work in congress. They could discuss options in a civilized manner and come up with a common solution. The book explained that now members of congress commute to Washington D.C. from their state of residence. They spend their time commuting and campaigning and fund raising for the next election. There is no social interaction. They don’t even try to get to know the guy on “the other side”. It’s an us vs them congress. This is why there is no compromising. You can not successfully run a country with this mentality. Why can’t we all just get along?
Congress could learn a lot from my small diverse community. But I bet no one in congress has to pay one third of their income towards their health insurance deductible. I bet they don’t need five cords of wood each winter to heat their 1200 square foot house. I bet they would still get paid if they were out of work for two months after a trauma accident. I think maybe that they don’t even understand what it’s like in the real world.
In closing, I was hoping you could go ahead and implement a real socialized medicine health care plan for our country. There are plenty of other countries that make it work. I’m sure we could too. I’m pretty good at budgeting if you need some help.
Lisa Poe Darby, Montana