Come August, and thanks to President Obama and the Democratic House and Senate, I expect to receive a nice little refund check from my health insurance carrier.
So will many of you. In fact, together we will receive over $1 billion in refunds only because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, aka, "Obamacare."
This check will not come from the government, and will not add a penny to the deficit, but it will arrive because of the "patient protection" part of Obamacare.
You see, under our new healthcare insurance system, the insurers have to spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they collect from us on actual healthcare. Before, they would just pocket it, and provide for executive bonuses, yachts, private jets, memberships to country clubs -- all of which are wonderful, it is fine for them and others to enjoy them, but not with my healthcare dollars, thank you very much.
Moreover, there was a perverse incentive to deny coverage in order to boost profits to afford such luxuries, and the "best" companies were those who were good at figuring out how to promise me coverage to get my business, and then deny it when I needed it, or at least make me spend a lot of time and effort to get them to pay.
Publicly-traded health insurance companies used to boast to investors about their "medical loss ratios," which is Wall Street speak for how little of the premiums they were spending on our actual healthcare. Those with the best ratios saw their share prices rise. That helped pay for the nice homes, yachts, and other luxuries as well. Again, I am all in favor of peoples' fun and games, just not with my health care dollars.
Now, under our new health insurance system, if an insurer spends less than 80 percent of the premiums it collects on healthcare, they owe us the difference.
As with all good things, there is a catch. The catch is that if Mitt Romney is elected, he will return us to our former healthcare system... and he and his good buddies will enjoy their bonuses and yachts and country club memberships at the expense of our healthcare again, just as it was in the old days.
I am not willing to go back to those old days of health care, are you? I am not willing to risk running up against a lifetime cap if I become ill, and thus have bankruptcy accompany my illness. I am not willing to risk being denied coverage because I once had acne and forgot to mention it on my insurance application. I am not willing for women I know to be denied reproductive health care or charged more just for being a woman. I am not interested in reading heart-breaking stories in the news about a child whose parents go bankrupt because he was born with an abnormality like Rick Santorum's toddler and thus is denied coverage due to a "pre-existing" illness. I am not willing to have my mother pay more for her medications because the "doughnut" hole in the prescription drug act opens wide again.
And, frankly, I do not think it should require a "CNN-hero" to get our mothers and sisters and wives and girlfriends screening mammograms to catch early breast cancers, and I am not willing to have these women denied insurance in the future because they had a "pre-existing" illness.
Nor, for good measure, am I willing for Ryan's VoucherCare to replace Medicare.
All of that is what a Romney victory promises. This is not an inference from this or that gaffe. It is one of the few policies about which he has specifically told us what he will do.
And, no, they are not going to replace this with a few of the individual elements of Obamacare. As the right-wing Supreme Court dissenters, with whom Romney said he agreed, pointed out, the reforms stand or fall together.
Does anyone believe that Mitt Romney, the quintessential corporate manipulator, is going to force insurance companies to provide you rebates? If you do believe it, come see me. I have a bridge-to-nowhere to sell you.
So, I am willing to take this year's check and send it to the Obama campaign. It is a great investment, in our healthcare, in our country, and in itself, as President Obama's re-election is the only way that you and I will receive similar checks for years to come.
The right-wing has a fundraising advantage over progressives since their campaign donations are more like investments in themselves -- $10 million from a casino operator, or $400 million from polluting oil and chemical companies, is repaid many times over in lax regulations and special tax breaks.
Does anyone believe that they are investing these enormous sums of money into Romney's election because they care about your jobs? Really, now.
Here is one opportunity for progressives not only to do what is right for the country, and right for their own health, but also to make it an investment in their financial future, with monetary returns on that investment for years to come.
These are tough times. But, if we do not invest in our future now, they will be tougher under a right-wing regime dedicated to transferring wealth from the 99 percent to the one percent, and cutting off all chances for the American people to correct those imbalances at the polls. If you think, for example, that the Koch Boys and their fellow travelers will allow "net neutrality" to survive, so that we can continue to talk to each other over this medium and organize as easily as the one percent and big corporations, then I have another bridge-to-nowhere to sell you.
President Obama is not perfect. But, then, neither am I. Together, we cannot make a perfect future. But, we can make a better one.
Taking the health care insurance check and giving that to the Obama campaign is an effective and relevant way to do that. It is an investment with annual returns.
Will you join me?
Follow Paul Abrams on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pabrams2001