West End News: November 7

Sawtooth Mountain Clinic
Sawtooth Mountain Clinic

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The Schroeder Historical Society is holding its annual Holiday Bazaar Saturday, Nov. 23, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Cross River Heritage Center in Schroeder.  Once again this year, there will be drawing for a beautiful handmade quilt.  The drawing will be held at 2 p.m.  Call 663-7706 or e-mail office@crossriverheritage.org if you need more information.
 
I am pleased with the news that the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic in Grand Marais has added a staff person to help Cook County residents get enrolled in MNSure, which is the new online health insurance exchange created under the Affordable Health Care Act.  Rachelle Christianson is scheduling information sessions around the county.  She plans to have a couple of sessions in the West End, so watch for information about when and where as it becomes available. 
 
The MNSure exchange is for people who either don’t have health insurance or are underinsured.  If you get health insurance through your work, or if you are on Medicare, you don’t have to be concerned with MNSure.  Judging from her interview here on WTIP, Rachelle seems to have a very firm grasp on the details of MNSure and will be able to give you clear and helpful advice.  If you don’t want to wait for the public information sessions, you can contact her directly at the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic at 387-2330.
 
I’ve been very annoyed by the irrational and inaccurate misinformation campaign surrounding the Affordable Health Care Act, which is sometimes called Obamacare.  I can’t even begin to list all the nonsense that has been said about the Act, because it would take too long. 
 
From my perspective, Obamacare will be very useful to my family and small business.  We have been among the underinsured population for many years.  As an independent small business, we’ve been forced to buy our insurance on the open market as individuals.  In order to keep the expense within our means we’ve had to carry disaster insurance featuring very high deductibles, large co-payments and scary exclusions for expensive illnesses.  On top of that, many insurance companies have made it a standard practice to drop people from coverage on some flimsy pretext if they actually became sick, to avoid having to pay the claim.
 
In other words, we’ve been paying a small fortune for insurance that didn’t really protect us and might not cover us at all.  Even if our insurance worked as advertised, the reality was that if two members of our family became seriously ill at the same time, we could lose our home and business to bankruptcy – just for being unlucky.
 
The Affordable Health Care Act is a big step toward making sure that all Americans are treated fairly by their health insurance.  You can no longer be denied insurance for having a pre-existing condition.  You no longer can be dropped from your insurance just because you get sick.  All health insurance policies are now required to offer solid, across the board basic care without requiring you to lose your life’s savings if you get seriously ill or injured.
 
That said, I believe the Affordable Health Care Act is a flawed solution to how health care is paid for in America.  All you have to do is look around the world to see that a single payer system of health care is the way to go.  It is simpler, far more efficient and would improve the overall health of Americans. 
 
There is no perfect system for something as complicated as health care, but we can do much better.  A logical, well-run, single payer health insurance system could allow full choice of which doctor you see, make the paperwork much simpler, help hold down costs and let business unleash its entrepreneurial spirit.
 
In my opinion, we should give Obamacare a chance, but it’s not too early to be thinking about the next step forward.
 
At this writing, Sawbill Lake is still completely free of ice, but I don’t think that will last much longer.  All the leaves and needles are down now and the woods have that dark, austere November look.  Every time the wind switches to the north, I can practically smell the snow and ice creeping inexorably nearer and nearer.


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