FILED IN: Parenting

On the fence about health care reform.

I’m not sure what to think about health care reform.

On the other hand, I am sure that — if I made that statement in conversation — most people I know would shout either, "How can you support it?!" or "How can you oppose it?!"

Because it seems like the only real majority here are the persons who have strong opinions about reform. Those of us who aren’t sure what we think are a very small, very quiet minority.

I have a couple personal reasons why I see a need for changes, whether they’re called for in the legislation or not. First, I have my own pre-existing condition — postpartum depression. When we sought private health insurance a few years ago, it was the reason our premiums were higher than they otherwise would have been. I wasn’t denied coverage, but the price I paid was affected even by a condition as seemingly minor as PPD.

But that’s nothing compared to the health care expenses being borne by a friend of ours who was diagnosed with leukemia last fall. His first treatment, which was not covered by insurance, was $16,000. It was the first of many.

Those campaign commercials from 2008, featuring people who had to declare bankruptcy thanks to their medical bills? His family is living that nightmare.

I don’t think that bad luck should ruin a personal financially. That’s why we carry insurance. We carry homeowner’s insurance so that if our house burns down, we can rebuild it. We carry car insurance so that if we have an accident, we can repair our car. We carry life insurance so that if we die while our children are still young, there will be money to meet their financial needs.

Sure, people can declare bankruptcy. But first, they have to pay as much as possible, which means liquidating investments. It’s maddening to think that I’d have to raid my IRA — money that I worked hard for and saved diligently — to pay medical bills. And even then I could still end up declaring bankruptcy and demolishing my good credit score that I’ve also worked hard to attain and maintain.

I don’t think that’s right.

But I’m not certain that health care reform will prevent that from happening to me or anyone else.

If an insurance company is required to cover absolutely every procedure for absolutely every person who carries a policy with them, that will cost a lot of money. More people will be paying into the system, but the system will pay out more.

Good! say my friends who support reform. Insurance companies don’t need to make more money!

But they’re for-profit corporations. Doctors work for profit too, just like every other professional. There is nothing wrong with making money. It baffles me that people demonize those who profit from their ideas and hard work.

Following the sequence of events predicted by conservatives, insurance companies will go out of business due to reduced profit margins, and the government will take over administration of health care. Perhaps we’ll have a combination of private and public hospitals and clinics. Perhaps some doctors will practice on retainer. Perhaps not. What’s possible will depend on how the legislation is written.

Either way, health care will become another entitlement like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These programs are already on shaky financial ground, and they comprise a significant chunk of federal spending each year. Adding to this mandatory spending means an even larger fiscal gap to overcome. Anyone who isn’t daunted by the budget scenario we’re facing – whether they support health care reform or not – hasn’t done enough reading.

Both sides of the aisle make dire predictions: The Republicans’ worst case scenario is a single payer system, and the Democrats’ worst case scenario is what we’ve got right now.

I see both sides. What we’ve got right now can ruin individuals financially. What we might create could ruin the country financially.

And I’m still not sure what to think.