The Health Care Bill And The Comics Industry
So after more than 100 years, the House passed a health
care reform bill. As of this writing, our president is going to sign the thing
into law tomorrow and then the Senate has to affirm some changes.
And then every paranoid, fear-filled right-winger who
doesn’t know the difference between a communist, a socialist, and a Nazi will
moan about the world coming to an end. Republicans don’t like the word
“democrat,” and in their world a majority doesn’t rule the day, so court
challenges will abound.
is a comics-oriented website, it might be a good idea to address how all this
affects the comics world. But in order to do that, I’ve got to try to explain what’s
A lot of the good stuff doesn’t kick in until 2014, but
there’s a lot of good stuff that starts this year. No more pre-existing
condition exclusions, and a special program will help adults with pre-existing
conditions get coverage until the full program kicks in. No more getting
dropped by your insurer when you get sick. No more lifetime coverage limits.
The annual cap dwindles and is eliminated entirely in 2014. Kids can stay on
their parents’ insurance until they’re 26. That’s only fair, since they’re
living in the basement anyway. Small businesses will get tax credits of up to
50 percent of premium costs.
For the 65+ crowd, they’ll get $250 towards closing the
“donut hole” in their prescription drug coverage (right now, seniors have to cover
everything between $2,700.01 and $6,200), and Medicare’s preventive benefits
now come with a free visit with your primary care doctor every year.
Mind you I’m not totally thrilled with this bill, but I
agree with Congressman Denis Kusinich: it’s a lot better than nothing, and it’s
a good start. Sadly, a lot of people will die between 2010 and 2014. And it
will make the insurance companies all the more wealthy because everybody will
have to have private care insurance. Yeah, I know, there’s supposed to be a
safety net but it’s based upon family income and not family situation: if
you’re making a living today but have incurred massive debt due to previous
health costs, you’re still screwed. I’m not crazy about any law that forces
everybody to give money to big business whether they want to or not, but I’ve
long felt that same way about our seat belt laws. People should have the
freedom to do what isn’t necessarily best for them, as long as it doesn’t
Getting back to goring the ox of fabled Comicsdom…
Most – and I strongly
suspect virtually all – people who
work in or own comics shops are not covered by insurance, unless it’s
spouse’s and their spouse doesn’t lose his or her job or insurance. Many
under 26 and living at home. Most people who work full-time for comic
publishers work for small businesses. Most freelancers – again, those
aren’t married to people with insurance – do not have insurance. This
eventually cover all of them.
All of us.
Of course, this bill
comes pretty much too late for a lot
of us who aren’t quite senior citizens. My pal John Ostrander will be on
Medicare by the time this kicks in completely, and I’ll be about 18
myself. The whole generation of comics creators that came into the field
about 1970 will be treading water until 2014.
In this respect, former
DC Comics president/publisher Paul
Levitz picked a crappy time to go freelance. His COBRA should run out
Actually, these health
care provisions will widen the
talent pool. People – artists in particular – who need health insurance
more likely to take a gig at an ad agency or a commercial art shop than
on the risk of freelancing. The regs that affect small businesses will
possible for more of them to offer health insurance to themselves and
employees, even on a (now typical) split-cost basis. That will help
retailers and non-chain bookstores as well as the overwhelming majority
Then there’s the
secondary benefits of health care. Fewer
people will come to work sick, so fewer people will catch other folks’
diseases. Productivity will be higher, if that’s at all possible.
be more likely to afford health care for their kids, and will miss less
work. Of course, people like myself cannot be forced to take greater
care, but if the cost disincentive is removed or lessened, perhaps we
encouraged to shift our focus from kissing the boo-boo to stopping it
happening in the first place.
Of course, every
reasonable person should prefer to spend
his or her hard-earned dollars on comic books than on doctors, hospitals
prescriptions. It won’t be a substantial boon, but for cockroach
every nickel counts.
I know we’re going to
get a lot of lies and fear-mongering
and just damn stupid shit like America’s got the best health care in the
and how this is communism (yeah; being forced to buy health insurance
business is communism, you betcha), and how we can’t afford it (the
non-partisan CBO says otherwise; besides, corporate masters will be able
work their previously uninsured wage slaves all the harder), and a whole
That’s fine. This is
America. Comment away. I fired the
first shot. But I know better than to waste my time in debate with
zealots. Say what you want, but it will be more interesting if you were
something significant and factual.
thanks to all the news services I used to fact-check all this.