Is Your Insurance Company Exploiting You?
Think Hoosiers, leaves blowing across an Indiana road in the fall. Think Boston and Maine, crossing New England inlets town after town, where once fishermen died by the hundreds in the unforgiving Atlantic. Think South Florida in the pioneer days, Henry Flagler bringing the iron horse south to Key West, crossing an azure sea, key by key. Think of those wild Oklahoma mornings where the wind came pounding down the range. Think the Panama Canal, where 25,000 (5,000 Americans) died to build a path to the seas. Think of it all – Lewis and Clark, Brandywine Creek, the Little Bighorn, Gettysburg, the Halls of Montezuma, Iwo Jima, the Tet Offensive. Think Washington Irving, Mark Twain, Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Salinger. Think American history.
That helps explain why it will take an awful lot to avoid a long, anxious summer for Democratic candidates. Studies are showing that Florida is filled with voters who don’t like what just happened in Washington. One poll showed a sharp spike for Attorney General Bill McCollum, Republican candidate for governor. He’s one of the attorney generals suing the government over the health care legislation.
The national press has given Florida much attention on this matter. Many people are saying that seniors and retirees, often but not always the same people, are defending their turf – seeing little in this bill for them, and possibly costing them money. Selfishness, you might say.
That’s probably one motive, but there may be something more going on here... something more fundamental to American values. Almost by definition, people who have retired in Florida, or own second homes, fall into the category of responsible citizens. Otherwise, they most likely could not have afforded to be here in the first place. Some years back our state was a cheap place to live, but that’s not true today.
Thus, those older people who are here have mostly lived reasonably carefully and conservatively – saving money, having decent insurance, and generally valuing the institutions that have governed their lives. They may not know all the details, but they have a sense of the history, which they inherited, and have, in manner large or small, helped preserve and shape.
They don’t usually hate insurance companies, or feel exploited by the system. Until now. Even if they don’t worry about deficits and what it will do to their grandchildren, and many obviously do, they sense something fundamentally wrong with a bill that turns the concept of insurance upside down.
They nod in agreement with the critics who scoff at the notion that you can get around to having property insurance only when your house burns down. Or get medical insurance only when you get sick. Or watch younger generations growing up with an attitude of “What, me worry?” Not when government is a backstop to solve problems that these older people had to solve for themselves. They are not upset when right wing commentators call this socialism. Democrats call that notion nonsense. Florida isn’t so sure.
It’s not just one thing, but a bunch of irritants that cluster into moods of anger. The idea of illegal immigrants milking the system, moving here to have children who then become citizens, or use emergency rooms for what others use doctors. It’s people driving without insurance, or even licenses. It includes the bailouts and the reckless government policies that caused the mortgage mess. These seniors may be for the most part secure, but they know their children may be feeling the painful effects of the economy. They have a disdain for comparing Social Security to the new health care legislation. These people paid Social Security since they were teenagers, and many are still working and paying. To them, who have lived long enough, and many have not, it is called a return on investment.
But in the largest sense, it is that cloudy but sweet emotion rooted in our history, the stuff of the opening graph, hard to put in neat terms, but always there. You can call it patriotism. Or people simply remembering where they came from, and worrying about where we are going. Although it may not qualify medically, you might also call it a pre-existing condition.