(By Joanne Boyer, cross-posted at Wisdom Voices)
Excuse me, but we are talking about people’s lives—including mine. That’s what I want to tell every local, state, or federal legislator out and about screaming “Repeal Obamacare.” For those of us who are unable to acquire or afford health insurance, we have been counting down the days to January 1, 2014. For us, it has seemed like forever since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed and full implementation begins. The ACA, although not the single-payer system this country so desperately needs, takes the first step to allow millions of people the chance to seek medical care when needed. It’s as simple as that. The opportunity for people to access health care (in some cases live-saving care) is not the place for political gamesmanship, rhetoric, distortion, or playing to a base of voters.
I am so tired of and angry at legislators and others who continue to propel falsehoods about the new healthcare law. Is it a perfect bill? Of course not. Is there room for improvement? Youbetcha. But, what cannot be denied is the fact that the ACA offers those of us who are currently unable to participate in this country’s for-profit health care delivery system, a chance to see a doctor. The ACA boils down to that one fact for so many of us—we have a fighting chance to finally seek the health care we need. Other more detailed facts of the legislation can be found at the official ACA site here. Other ACA benefits include allowing children to stay on their parents’ health plan until age 26, an 80/20 rule that says health insurance providers must put 80 cents of every premium dollar they take from consumers into providing actual health care, and elimination of life-time benefit maximums.
I live in Minnesota, a state fully embracing the ACA and on September 6, MNSure, the state’s health exchange, will post the benefit plan designs available and the cost. I cannot wait. And I’m not even sure that I will find “cheaper” coverage, but I know that thanks to the ACA, I will find “better” coverage. I have four more months of paying for the “bankruptcy insurance” I now carry that masquerades for health care coverage. My $329.21 a month for a $10,000 deducible policy prevents me from seeking the health care I need today. Who stands between me and my doctor and the health care I need? That’s simple for me to answer: it’s our country’s for-profit health care delivery system. We still remain the only country in the industrialized world to embrace such a system.
What will the ACA do for me? I need cataract surgery; my recent trip to my optometrist revealed that even with another (four times in two years) upgrade to my lenses, it cannot properly correct the cataract and my vision. My optometrist recommended cataract surgery. After I explained my health insurance situation, he said to me—make an appointment for January. My current monthly payment of $329.21 does not allow me to have the eyesight I need and I want to have.
I have a family history of colon cancer (and a current diagnosis of breast cancer). My oncologist and my OB-GYN physician have been after me to get a colonoscopy. My $329.21 payment per month for my $10,000 deductible means I would have to pay out-of-pocket for this procedure. On January 1, 2014, it will be a covered procedure—no matter what benefit plan design I chose—thanks to the ACA.
I most likely have basal-cell carcinoma. Gee, it would be nice to know if my self-diagnosis is correct or not. My current $329.21 per month $10,000 deducible policy means that I would have to pay out-of-pocket to find out if I do. Likewise it would mean I would have to foot the bill (in addition to my $329.21/month payment for the coverage that covers nothing) to correct that situation, if needed. On January 1, based on the plan design option I chose, I may be able to see a physician and find out.
My ability to manage my health care becomes progressively better on January 1, 2014 because of the ACA. And, that’s the simple truth for millions of other individual Americans.
It really is a shame that the Obama administration has not done a better job communicating the benefits of the health car law to the country. Why the Democratic Party can never message anything properly will be a discussion for another day. As for communicating and helping people understand the benefits of the ACA, the effort rates a C- (or lower) on my grading scale. Our complex and complicated (by design) health care delivery system is difficult enough to understand. But when you have a well-oiled noise machine able to distort the truth and outright lie about the ACA, one would have hoped that perhaps this time, the messaging about ACA benefits would have been better.
I urge people to take ownership and find out the facts about the ACA. You can do that by visiting the official government site by clicking here. Ask questions of those running your state exchanges. Be inquisitive. If you think the ACA is bad, find out for yourself if your assumptions are correct or not. Don’t take someone else’s word for it. Empower yourself… find out more…help a neighbor or family member find out more. For heaven’s sakes…the very health and vitality of our individual and collective being could depend on it.