If the title of this post strikes you as an inflammatory detour into politics and away from our normal travel-related writing, that is only because politicians have inflamed us by forcing a detour of our travels. What’s worse is that their purpose for doing so threatens to undermine the kind of location independent lifestyle we routinely advocate here.
But before we get to that, we’ll start with the detour.
Our original plans had us spending the better part of October exploring California’s great national parks. We expected to spend next week in Yosemite. From there we’d travel to Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Death Valley and maybe even Joshua Tree. Now, almost none of that may happen.
As of today, the only thing we know for certain is that we’re rushing to get a couple of days in at Yosemite this weekend. After that, we have no idea whether any of these parks will even be open. Why? You can thank Congressional Republicans.
Without new legislation from Congress, the federal government and all its national parks will shut down on October 1, 2013 – the exact day we originally expected to arrive at Yosemite. The way we understand things is that if a shutdown occurs it will likely take a week, and possibly much longer, to reopen. In the meantime, we’re stuck in limbo along with anyone else who planned to visit one of our national parks.
This is not a situation where all sides are equally to blame. The threat of a government shutdown in this instance does not arise because of an ordinary budgetary dispute over spending priorities. It arises because one side, the Republican side, wants to achieve through coercion what it couldn’t achieve at the ballot box and can’t now achieve through direct legislation. Said more simply, because the Republican Party can’t currently obtain its objectives through ordinary Constitutional means it is threatening to block the normal functioning of all government until it gets what it wants.
And what it wants most is for Shannon and me, those like us, and everyone who aspires to our lifestyle, to be returned to an era of greater financial insecurity and lessened individual flexibility.
Health insurance is the difference between EverywhereOnce and OneplaceMostly
It’s no exaggeration to say that this blog and all the travels it has documented over the years owe their existence to one simple bureaucratic decision. In early 2010, Shannon and I were accepted for an independent health insurance policy.
It’s a misnomer to say that we bought health insurance. The truth is that under the old system policies weren’t really available to buy at any price. Instead, we needed to convince an insurance company to sell us one by filling out mountains of paperwork detailing our medical history in excruciating detail. Woe unto us if we misremembered anything.
Fortunately, we were both healthy and still relatively young and thus, insurable under the old regime. But it was no sure thing. Had we been rejected, and at one point it seemed like we might be, I’d never have left my job and its employer sponsored health insurance. The financial risk for going without in America is too great.
Even after we obtained our individual policy, leaving Mega Corp exposed us to considerable financial risk. We worried that our insurer could retroactively cancel our coverage if there were any errors or unintended omissions in our lengthy application. We similarly worried about our insurer’s ability to declare our application invalid because we don’t actually live in the state where our policy is based – or any state for that matter.
These are not trivial concerns.
Pre-Obamacare we had little faith in our policy
If we were to lose our health insurance after we got sick for these reasons, or because our insurer went out of business or left the state, or for any reason whatsoever, we’d have been unable to get a replacement policy under the old system. Given the cost of U.S. care, hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars potentially hung in the balance.
Thanks to Obamacare we no longer have these concerns. Starting October 1, 2013, we can go to an exchange and buy a replacement health insurance policy with no questions asked. That is, unless Republicans get their way.
As I write these words our esteemed Republican representatives and senators are demanding a delay in Obamacare’s start date and its eventual repeal. Failing that they say they’ll refuse to fund the rest of the federal government. Under their terms we can either have our national parks (and other government services) or our health insurance security, but apparently not both.
This obviously impacts Shannon and me directly, but it also impacts so much of what we’ve advocated on this blog over the years. We regularly encourage our readers to buck convention and follow their dreams but always in a responsible way. Because we’d never risk our own financial future on a bet that we’ll stay healthy forever, we would never recommend that anyone else do so either.
For us a catastrophic, guaranteed renewable health insurance policy is an absolutely essential component to our financial plan. If we couldn’t buy one on our own, we’d need to look for an employer to provide one for us. In that case, our days of perpetual travel would have ended before they even got started.
It really is about freedom
And that is the situation in which thousands of Americans currently find themselves. They’re working at jobs they hate because it is the only way they can get health insurance. Many are looking forward to October 1 as a date of liberation when they’ll finally be free to follow their dreams. Whether that means starting their own business, leaving a large corporation for other opportunities, becoming perpetual travelers, or simply retiring without fear of potentially bankrupting medical bills, delaying Obamacare means delaying these dreams – all of which have already been deferred for too long.
Here at EverywhereOnce we’re rooting for their success. And, in this instance at least, that also means rooting for Republican failure.