Monday, January 28, 2013

It Is Time To Pull Our Heads Out of the Sand


For the last four years our nation has been dragged through an excruciating debate over health care reform. The passage of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA), and the beginning of its implementation, only seemed to intensify the antagonism of its opponents. So intense was the rhetoric that Presidential candidate, and former Governor, Mitt Romney, who presided over the implementation of a very successful state-wide plan in Massachusetts, almost identical to the ACA, felt compelled to renounce his own achievement in order to mollify the opponents of the federal plan and win their support in his quest for the presidency.

But now that President Obama has been re-elected, and more to the point, now that Republicans lack the Congressional strength to repeal, or even serious disable it, most states are preparing for the implementation of its most significant provisions starting in 2014.

October 1, 2013 marks the beginning of the enrollment period for those seeking to obtain insurance through the new market places (Exchanges). There are a number of sources of information regarding the coming enrollment period. Additionally there are some excellent tools available for individuals who wish to get a head start on estimating their cost (and eligibility) for health insurance under the new plan. I’ll point out some I have visited and those who wish can go to them by clicking the hyperlinks below and then bookmarking the ones they find useful.

Perhaps the best place to start is with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Health Reforms Source. This excellent website will give one just about everything needed to become informed about the law and its implications for their situation. The Kaiser Foundation offers an independent assessment of the law for those who would rather not get their information directly from the government.

One should not, however, overlook the Federal Government’s own website, Healtcare.gov. Here one can find the text of the actual law. After all the mis-information floated by opportunistic politicians and other interest groups over the last four years, it probably would not hurt if all Americans actually read the law for themselves. But there is much more at this site than just the law itself. Go and see for yourself.

For those who wish a postage stamp sized review of the nation’s healthcare problem and the manner in which the ACA addresses it, the Kaiser Family Foundations, The Uninsured: A Primer is an excellent source of information.

And, for those who are eager to know if they will qualify for a Government subsidy, or what their projected costs of insurance under such a subsidy will be, the UC Berkeley ACA Calculator provides a quick and simple estimate. One caution though. The calculator only provides an estimate of the monthly premium one would pay. It is an estimate based on the best available information at this time. Further, it does not include deductibles and co-pays which will apply and which differ according to the level of coverage one chooses: bronze, silver, gold, or platinum.

At the time of this writing Wisconsin has opted to allow the Federal Government to create the Marketplace (Exchange) which its uninsured citizens will use to purchase their insurance, rather than create one on its own, in cooperation with the federal government. Some other states have vowed to obstruct the implementation of the plan in their jurisdiction. Of course such foot-dragging represented by the Wisconsin approach or, more egregiously by obstructionist states, will only disadvantage their own citizens, primarily the poorest and sickest of their citizens. It is time to lay aside petty political differences and get on with providing all our citizens with the best health care we can afford.

The primary purpose of any government is to provide for its citizens those things they need but cannot provide for themselves. 49 million Americans are without any health care insurance. It is arguable that such insurance is not a “need” and therefore it is not a responsibility of the government to help them get it. But that is an argument that can only be made by those who feel assured that their healthcare insurance is secure or who have the means to pay their own health care costs. I am not among those in that situation and I suspect few who think carefully about the insecurity of our economy can honestly say they are invulnerable to the loss of health care security.

A few decades down the line (long after I am gone) the ACA will be touted as one of the great achievements of our great and (usually) humane society just as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Veteran’s Administration Health Care are now. The ACA will undoubtedly be improved upon and expanded to better serve us. But I can only foresee that it will win the hearts and minds of skeptics as they see, in the next few months, those they love and care for, who have struggled without adequate health care, receiving it at long last, at a cost they can afford.

The ACA will not, regrettably, bring healthcare coverage to ALL Americans. In those states who refuse to fully implement the ACA there will be many indigent single people who will neither qualify for coverage under ACA or for Medicaid coverage as provided in those states who fully participate in the plan. So, in states like Wisconsin, and others, there will still be need for charitable providers for those who fail to qualify for benefits under the ACA. The poor we will always have with us, giving us ample opportunity for personal charity. But for millions of Americans who have lived without adequate health care, or have feared they someday might, a new day is dawning. I would hope all Americans would welcome this opportunity to improve the lives of our fellow citizens and the health of our nation.

1 comment:

  1. Deuteronomy 15:11 For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.'

    Obama would rather have had universal healthcare. The ACA was a compromise, but better than nothing...a good start. Good and usful post with all the links. kudos

    ReplyDelete

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