Diane W. Mufson: Realistic planning required for health care solution | Opinion

Today’s national political scene reminds me of my work as a psychologist. I often saw clients seeking to make abrupt major changes in their lives without thinking through the potential problems that would accompany such changes.

The same goal is true for organizations and governments as it is for individuals. Fixing the problems of the ACA (Obamacare) requires in-depth and realistic planning before taking action.

Clients such as “John or Jane Doe” often would say they were going to quit their job or leave their marriage immediately as they would feel much better being unemployed or divorced. This is probably true, but then reality enters the picture.

If John or Jane were part of a family unit where others were willing and able to support them while they looked for new employment, there would be no big issue. And if these individuals were ready to call it quits in a marriage where their spouse felt the same way, their discomfort could be fairly easily assuaged.

But for most people, quitting a job or a marriage hastily without any solid future plan is an invitation to jump from the frying pan into the fire. In some ways, President Trump’s push to end the ACA (Obamacare) has charred and unintended results.

The Republicans and the president have been unhappy with the ACA from the get-go, seven years ago, offering plenty of time to craft a solid plan that would meet the interests of their party and the needs of the public. After all, during the campaign, Mr. Trump promised a much better and cheaper plan for everyone. Where is it?

Reality has gotten in the way. It is not easy to create any kind of health care program for Americans who never had such a plan. To be financially secure, such a plan must ensure that healthy young people buy into this proposal financially and personally. I find it intriguing that we can require every licensed vehicle operator to carry insurance in order to have a driver’s license. People do not complain that it is hurting their freedom of choice. What is the problem with treating health insurance as we do vehicle insurance? Even young people get ill and have accidents.

The issues that John and Jane would need to discuss prior to precipitously leaving their jobs or marriages include these: Where will my money come from after I leave this job or relationship? How will I function without this job/relationship? What aspects of this job/relationship are so distasteful that I want to make sure that my next one isn’t a carbon copy? And what actions do I need to take before I leave my present job/relationship to make sure that things do not become worse for me?

Health care insurance legislation has to investigate similar aspects, especially how to prevent making current problems even more complex.

Those touting the repeal of the ACA have never figured out how to offer a new, better, cheaper, more inclusive health care program. What they have figured out is how to save some money for the wealthiest Americans and how to cut health care benefits for the poor and working class.

To think that fixing the ACA or any massive piece of legislation that affects millions is easy, stress-free or requires little planning is foolish. People quitting jobs or leaving marriages precipitously find this out. Our government should at least understand that fixing America’s health care insurance requires a well-thought-out, realistic plan. Wouldn’t it make America great if Republicans and Democrats could work on this together?

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