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Gibson writes: "Pete Dutro, a small business owner, single father, and cancer survivor in New York City, says that while the Affordable Care Act is far from perfect, it's a good thing for him and his family."

 (photo: unknown)
(photo: unknown)


How Obamacare Saved a Small Business Owner From Financial Ruin

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

18 March 14

 

fter the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the larger debate, as the enrollment deadline of March 31 looms, is whether or not the reforms in President Obama’s health care law are indicative of whether or not the government can play a positive role in the healthcare sector. Pete Dutro, a small business owner, single father, and cancer survivor in New York City, says that while the Affordable Care Act is far from perfect, it's a good thing for him and his family.

“This is a huge step forward for me. I actually don’t have to have Damocles’ sword hanging over my head. I have a daughter, and I want to be around for her. So this is a huge step in the right direction,” Dutro said. “It’s not perfect, but it’s a huge improvement.”

Dutro owns a tattoo shop, and says while his business is incorporated as an s-corp, he runs it like a co-op. Employees are paid fairly and all meet regularly to discuss how revenue can be better shared with other workers through additional employee benefits, like a company health insurance plan. Just before Dutro was diagnosed with cancer, he was in a motorcycle accident and didn’t have health insurance. When the cancer diagnosis came, Dutro was laid out for 8 months in between surgeries and treatments.

The treatment process for Dutro’s cancer involved numerous scans and tests that amounted to about $5,000 per procedure, and each visit to Bellevue Hospital required sometimes three separate treatments. In between radiation treatment, surgeries and diagnostic tests, Dutro was looking at roughly a half million dollars in healthcare costs. At the hospital’s finance office, Dutro barely qualified for emergency Medicaid coverage.

“I was kind of lucky where I was in a cycle that my business was losing money, so I qualified for the emergency Medicaid,” Dutro said. “But I really felt like they were saying, ‘Fuck you for living. Fuck you for even trying to do anything.’”

The first time Pete Dutro ever had a health insurance plan in his life was after January 1, 2014. When Dutro tried buying a private health insurance plan before Obamacare, the cheapest option he could find was $4,564 a month. Now, under the New York Health Exchange, Dutro pays a little over $1,000 a month. His health insurance is a platinum plan, so it not only covers all of his diagnostics and tests, but his daughter now has health coverage, too. Dutro used to be a kickboxer, and had to buy insurance for his matches. A high-level competitor, Dutro broke his nose in several matches and had to pay for it.

“I’m not just some random person who had no clue about the importance of this. This is something I wanted but couldn’t afford,” Dutro said. “I wasn’t one of those people in his mid-twenties and early thirties who couldn’t be bothered by this. It was always just a little bit too much.”

Dutro concedes that Obamacare is “a boon for corporations” as it forces citizens to buy private health insurance plans. Obamacare subsidizes the private health insurance industry to the tune of $100 billion per year. But he maintains that it’s a step above the status quo, and calls those who want to see it repealed and dismantled “life-haters.”

“When you think about it, there’s a lottery of life. You don’t get to choose who you’re born to, you don’t get to choose where you’re born. The fact is, there are people in this country who are born into poor families, and some people think they chose to be born into poverty. Those people are misanthropic. They actually hate the life around them, if you look at the policies they promote,” Dutro said.

“They just cut WIC. They don’t want women, infants, and children to have food stamps. Are you kidding? And they’re trying to take the moral high ground of Jesus Christ, which, what I remember from my grandfathers, was take care of the poor, it wasn’t cut taxes for the richest people so all the money flows up,” Dutro contined. “This is, to me, completely antithetical to this Christian image they try to portray.”

Dutro believes we should keep pushing for a single-payer system, where the government pays for health care costs without a need for private health insurers. But he also believes the fundamental questions that should be asked about Obamacare aren’t whether it should be maintained or repealed, but why Americans need to depend on programs like the Affordable Care Act, and whether or not businesses will make investments in their employees’ health.

“Why are so many eligible for Obamacare and other subsidies? Because these employers, they don’t pay their workers a living wage,” Dutro said. “As a business owner, I know that what’s essential to my business is paying my employees well. If I invest in my employees, that’s more revenue down the line.”



Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

 

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+22 # bmiluski 2014-03-18 07:33
This is the type of ads the democrats should be running.
 
 
+20 # reiverpacific 2014-03-18 08:11
For a goodly part of my life I've self-employed or a small business owner in the UK, other countries and here, and have been bankrupted by the criminal lottery and scam excuse for Healthcare in the wealthiest country in the world (for increasingly few) -and that was WITH self paid insurance, I'm glad that Mr Dutro has had a positive outcome to his personal and family crisis.
We were doing very well and so got no help whatever, as I couldn't work for several months after nearly croaking and had to shut down my practice.
I've written this before on RSN but again, I've twice gone back to Scotland for non-emergency procedures and both trips, including R.T. airfare from the west coast (which were both quite a bit less than the 26-mile ambulance ride that took me to the ER) being gone for a month, cost me
 
 
0 # reiverpacific 2014-03-19 10:34
Quoting reiverpacific:
For a goodly part of my life I've self-employed or a small business owner in the UK, other countries and here, and have been bankrupted by the criminal lottery and scam excuse for Healthcare in the wealthiest country in the world (for increasingly few) -and that was WITH self paid insurance, I'm glad that Mr Dutro has had a positive outcome to his personal and family crisis.
We were doing very well and so got no help whatever, as I couldn't work for several months after nearly croaking and had to shut down my practice.
I've written this before on RSN but again, I've twice gone back to Scotland for non-emergency procedures and both trips, including R.T. airfare from the west coast (which were both quite a bit less than the 26-mile ambulance ride that took me to the ER) being gone for a month, cost me

What happened -I got cut off with 616 characters remaining??!!
 
 
+8 # psadave 2014-03-18 09:32
This man lives in NY...he should get on one of the idiotic shows on Fux News, so they could actually be "fair & balanced".
 
 
+8 # Rain17 2014-03-18 10:17
It's ironic that this author, who hoped that the Supreme Court invalidated Obamacare in 2012 and who defiantly stated here that he would not sign up for insurance and pay the penalty, is now writing positive articles about the law. I wonder what changed.
 
 
+5 # CarlGibson 2014-03-18 14:31
Nothing changed. I still stand by my decision to pay the penalty instead of pay for private insurance, simply because that's the most economically-se nsible decision for me this time. But I also know that the ACA helps people like Pete, and that as a journalist, there's always more to a story than just the way I see it individually.
 
 
+2 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-03-18 19:24
An "event" that does not appear to be threatening is given little thought. An event that is distant is given little thought. An event that is considered imminent is given less thought but lots of appropriate action.
 
 
+6 # angelfish 2014-03-18 13:32
The ReTHUGlicans sit on their hands and offer NO HELP to americans with a Comprehensive Health Care Alternative of their own, No Jobs Bill and NOTHING of any value to Amerians, unless of course, they are RICH Americans. The one thing they ARE good at, however, is complaining long and loud over the failures of the ACA. WHERE is their alternative? HELP Americans! There is NO reason on God's green Earth to stop them from working with the opposite side of the aisle to achieve a Single Payer Option for ALL that will save Billions and serve Millions!
 
 
+3 # RLF 2014-03-18 14:26
I have been self employed most of my life. We are the ones that were completely screwed before. I have yet to get insurance under OC but looks like, at 55, I might finally be able to afford it. Probably like all of the other insurance scams...have it for 3 years and then it gets crazy expensive once we're all required to have it.
 
 
+3 # spercepolnes 2014-03-18 18:00
A Government that actually cares about it's people should have free, or near free medicare and education for it's citizens. Anything else is a criminal abrogation of it's duty and purpose!
Having lived in countries that have that scenario, I'm still shocked by the criminal disregard, US government and authorities have for their people!
 
 
+4 # Rain17 2014-03-18 18:54
Blame approximately 40-45% of this country who virulently opposes any efforts to enact single-payer. They are the ones holding this country back.
 

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