While far from perfect, the ACA (Affordable Care Act), or Obamacare, is actually an attempt to improve the health care of Americans going forward. Yes, there are many unknowns —that is true for any new path chosen. However, the current health care system is untenable, and doing nothing is not an option. We have the most expensive and complex health care system that fails to deliver equitably, and leaves more citizens without coverage than any other developed country on the planet. In other words, our health care system is nearly broken. Change was and is needed.
As previously mentioned, there are many things we do not know yet, because open enrollment is only now taking place starting Oct. 1, 2013. However, many improvements are already being felt, such as: no dollar cap on coverage, no exclusions due to pre-existing conditions, children covered on their parents’ policies until age 26, equal costs for men and women, to name but a few. These changes, respectively, mean that: now if you get cancer and your treatment costs 2 million dollars, your insurance company cannot deny your claim. From this point forward, if you get a disease like cancer, then recover, then change jobs, or have your job eliminated, and have to seek out insurance on your own, you cannot be denied coverage. Your children that just graduated college or that are still in college, can rest easily and stay on your policy until they find employment that covers them, or are financially able to purchase coverage on their own. These benefits offer great piece of mind in this fragile economic recovery. Finally, there is no more gender punishment for being a woman. Women get the same coverage for the same amount of money. How can this not be a great development?
Our advice given to everyone we know is simple: Be patient, and embrace the changes as much as possible. Go to http://healthcare.gov to find direct answers to the questions and concerns that you may have. Sure, there will be hiccups along the way. And of course, there will be aspects of the new laws that Americans may decide thatthey want to do away with. If this turns out to be the case, we have an orderly legislative repeal process that has served our republic well since the beginning days of America. Sure, these things take time, but so will the implementation and experience of using Obamacare before we will be able to truly judge its success. We do believe this, however, as stated above: Despite its potential flaws, the ACA is an improvement in all American’s health care, and a step in the right direction. If we take two steps forward and one back, we are still stepping forward. Time will even things out, and take out any aspects of Obamacare that do more harm than good.
Finally, we believe that in a generation or so, the ACA will not only be well-received, but hailed as a watershed moment in our government’s ability to help the middle class. We see similarities between Obamacare now, and Social Security and Medicare now versus implementation. Social Security was seen as a socialist plot by Congress in the 1930s, and they vigorously tried to stop President Roosevelt’s signature plan. He prevailed, and so did America. Even though there are debates over the funding of Social Security, it has a proven track record of being one of the most popular programs ever enacted by the U.S. Government. Why? Because as a basic lifeline, it has kept millions of our seniors out of poverty during their golden years. Medicare is another example, and one that Congress was not too pleased with during President Johnson’s attempt at his “Great Society”. Many said it was the beginning of the end of America. And here we are 40 years later, and Medicare is extremely popular among a majority of Americans. We believe that once the hands of time have progressed through a generation, Obamacare will be looked upon with similar satisfaction.
In the meantime, let’s get excited about the coming changes! Enrollment is now. Kansas decided to not create its own health insurance exchange, and opted to have the federal government operate it instead. You can visit http://insureks.org to find more information, use a calculator to estimate your subsidies and premiums, and enroll in a health insurance plan.
You have choices for your health care. Just like a change in the tax code – or getting a new computer or phone — change can mean frustration, anger, and fear. But eventually the kinks get worked out and change becomes the new normal. We say that 2014 is the beginning of a newer and better normal for Americans and their health care.
Please go to http://gedems.org/aca for additional information about Obamacare and the health insurance marketplace.
Limer and Rains serve as the chair and vice chair of the Gardner Edgerton Democrats.