People 60 and older don’t get picked on much in politics. Seniors have long been a sort of untouchable “third rail.” That just changed with the GOP health bill.
It would be hyperbole to say Obamacare saved Christian Holtz’s life.
It definitely saved his quality of life, though. It saved his bacon.
“I would have been bankrupt for sure,” Holtz says. “I would have been at the mercy of the emergency room and the debt-collection system.”
Holtz, 62, is one of those do-it-yourselfer guys Seattle used to be known for. He lives on a boat, at Shilshole Marina. To get by, he teaches drivers’ education to teens, as well as sailing. He’s also a prop-plane pilot who has flown thousands of volunteer hours with Angel Flight West, which transports severely sick patients for free to hospital appointments.
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But none of that work comes with steady benefits. So he had medical coverage only sporadically until 2013, when he signed up under the Affordable Care Act. Because he makes only $30,000 yearly, the government paid about two-thirds of his premiums.
“I was 59 and never used health care much — had never really even been to the doctor,” Holtz says.
But two years later, both of his hip joints degraded to bone-on-bone. The pain was excruciating. Long story short: Holtz now has two titanium-and-ceramic hip joints. But it cost almost $100,000, which his Obamacare insurance is covering (after a $6,500 deductible.)
“I would be out on the street,” he says.
Holtz’s story is revealing for two reasons. One, it’s a case study in why Obamacare’s private-insurance markets are struggling. Younger, healthier people haven’t signed up in large enough numbers, leaving the exchanges filled with older folks, like Holtz, who have much higher health costs.
But two is that Republicans now have come out with their solution to this problem. Which is to force Holtz and…