Kage Baker had no medical insurance for the last several years of her life. Even before she left commercial employment for the free, mad life of a free-lance writer, the various companies she worked for could no longer provide health care benefits.
And since they didn’t have to if they were small enough – and living where we did in the wilds of the Central Coast, most companies were that small – they didn’t. Private health coverage was too expensive (those insurance companies have to make a profit, after all), and of course she didn’t qualify for any public assistance. Because she had a job.
And when she had no job but was instead self-employed, Kage made too much money. The sale of a book a year disqualified her, and she generally sold more than that. So, no insurance.
By the time she was sick enough to have spent her savings, sick enough to qualify for medical programs designed for desperate women with dangerous diseases – well, by then, she was too sick to survive. Too bad, so sad, worse things happen at sea. She wouldn’t have gotten any help at all, except that her gynecologist lied and said he was afraid of a breast cancer involvement to her existing uterine cancer. That got her enrolled in the program that tried to save her life.
But for Kage, the only individual mandate was a mandate to die.
Today, the Supreme Court decided that President Obama’s health care plan is, yes, Constitutional. This will be of enormous help for many, many people like Kage; people who would certainly have died will have a chance at living. At least, that’s what will happen once all the inevitable appeals and stalls and road blocks and plain black-hearted greedy subterfuges are defeated, and the program is permitted to go forward.
I’m glad for those people who will be helped. I wish Kage had been one of them.