The health care crisis in this country has claimed an interesting extra victim. Because I pay so much in premiums on a high-deductible policy that will still leave me with several thousand dollars to pay if I actually do get sick, or my wife does, I have had to give up every other extra expense. That includes my memberships in Adventure Cycling and the League of American Bicyclists, as well as donations I would have made above the membership amount.
Health insurance premiums have also driven me off the rolls of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, the Appalachian Mountain Teen Project (dealing with youth at risk with a variety of programs for both youth and parents) and most other casual acts of giving.
The premiums come due quarterly, with one squatting squarely on mid-December, so they also help blow a hole in my holiday generosity. No point rejoining the millions enslaved to their credit cards just to give everyone on my gift list a pair of socks.
Bicycling is a great health plan, both physical and mental. Watching my parents disappear in their body fat as I was growing up, I resolved that, come what may, I would be physically fit. So far that is all I've been, but one always has hope.
I would ditch the so-called health coverage in an instant, but for some reason doctors' offices seem to look more kindly on someone who has a policy that pays nothing than on a person who pays their bills in full, on time, out of pocket every time. That person does not have the stamp of a giant corporation standing behind him. They were right that if I really did get sick I might have to scrape up a pile to pay for it, but I was seriously considering just dying like a good sport in return for a quality life while I lived.
This isn't political as such. It's a looming humanitarian problem with repurcussions for cycling. We need to support the social and political machine that gives us a presence at the state and national level. That, unfortunately, takes more than bicycles, parts and accessories. It takes more than well-honed technique. It takes money. And in subtle ways that money is being siphoned into gas tanks and insurance company coffers as much as or more than into expensive coffee drinks or a cheesy dial-up internet connection.
Just as in a bicycle, everything in society is connected, wheels in wheels and linkages to linkages. The blossoming expenses we let billow out of control are like a rusty chain or a growing slow leak in a tire. They'll really mess up what could be a great ride.