Printed Letters: April 24, 2014

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Deanne Adamson’s “Obamacare will take down fragile economy” and Holly Van Helms’ “GOP originally put forth plan similar to Affordable Care Act” (“ACA”) aptly illustrate the gradually improving tenor of the on-going debate over the efficacy of “ObamaCare”.

Thus, first, the fragility of our economy is the direct result of Republican obstructionism
—cynically intended to gain partisan political advantage in the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Second, Adamson provides inadequate detail to make an “apples to apples” comparison of her previous family coverage to her ACA-compliant policy.

The good news is that she found “affordable” (albeit more expensive) coverage and her family has not yet experienced any “serious illnesses” – which might have implicated annual/lifetime coverage limits in her previous policy, and/or induced that insurer to investigate for “pre-existing conditions” and cancel the coverage altogether.

Likewise, higher deductibles matter most when serious illness or injury strikes, and higher co-pays may be offset by the ACA’s free preventative care provisions.

Third, the proposition that “a policy is only socially just if its implementation doesn’t hurt other people” is wishful thinking.

Adamson forgets that the ACA was prompted by our “broken” health care system.  Beginning in 1989 – as Van Helms correctly points out – even “conservatives” were recognizing that not fixing it was a “socially unjust” policy choice, because that profit-driven system “hurt” too many “other people”.

As of April 15, 2014, 8 million had signed-up through either federal or state exchanges; 8.2 million may have obtained qualifying coverage through insurance brokers or directly from insurance companies; 5-7 million obtained coverage through Medicaid and/or CHIP expansion; and 1.6 to 3 million “under 26ers” remain covered on parents’ policies.

Thus, from 14.4 to 23.5 million Americans are now benefiting from the ACA – while 5+ million are waiting for recalcitrant “red states” to rediscover social justice.

Bill, the Sentinel requires 300 words or less in a letter.  I need a whole lot more words to detail my experience thus far.  Feel free to contact me if you want more information.  I am only telling one story - my story - but I have a feeling I’m not alone.  The lecture that I went to, while informative, glossed over rising future costs of this plan but offered no way to address them.  Dr. Pramenko also stated that we have done nothing yet to address the costs of health care. I thought that was the point of this whole mess.
I know my family is paying a lot more for less coverage to cover all those people who could not get coverage prior to this law.  It’s a big tax so why not just call it that and stop pretending like it’s some great boost to our “broken” health care system?  Costs of health care have not come down and have actually gone up.  Of that I am sure.  I tried to shop for a plan similar to what we had but “settled” on the one we currently have because we simply could not spend the kind of money a “gold” plan or the higher priced “silver” plans offer. It would definitely stress an already stressed family budget.  My husband did not like the bronze plans because the deductibles were way too high.  If it had been up to me, we would have gone uninsured but my husband insisted that we have coverage because of the boys. We are not spendthrifts and I am good at constantly trying to reduce costs or bargain hunt every time I shop for groceries, clothing for the boys, insurance, services, etc.  Nothing ever comes down in price but for my insurance to increase 29% - that’s tough and will be reflected in our tighter budget. We can live lean and mean.  Neither me or my husband come from money but worked our asses off for everything we have. My husband’s business of 12 years is also facing financial difficulties in this economy.  His boys barely see him as it is and now with longer hours, cutbacks, etc we are lucky if we see him a couple of days a month.  Do you get that? Can you grasp the concept of people all across the country tightening their belts so we can pay more taxes?  Health care costs are still high!!!  Prescriptions cost more, lab stuff costs more, doctor’s visits cost more.  So more people have access to insurance but can they afford it? 
Of those 8 million that signed up, how many have actually paid?
And, BTW, I am an unaffiliated voter.
How old are you Bill?  Do you have kids in high school with looming college costs ahead?  I’m curious to know where you are coming from when you think health insurance should cost more than housing and utilities combined.

BTW, How do you determine that this is “affordable”?  What does that mean? You know nothing of my income, expenses, etc. Do you just predetermine that we all should spend every available dollar towards supporting socialist programs?

Deanne – thanks for your cogent response to my comments.  I usually get lots more vitriol whenever I try to defend and/or explain “ObamaCare” in 300 words or less!

I do not question your experience or the insurance premiums you quoted.  I know that families with looming expenses and unpredictable income near (or over) the top of the subsidy eligibility scale can be the most adversely affected by the Affordable Care Act.

However, my point was – and remains – that the ACA is not entirely to blame for the issues raised by your own personal story.

Remember, before the ACA was enacted, overall health care expenditures in the U.S. were double per capita relative to other industrialized countries – and with inferior medical outcomes (except for the very wealthy, who could afford the very best care).

The fundamental reason for that disparity is that only the U.S. still clings to a profit-driven health care “system”, when our “peers” treat health care as a “public good” and provide access to their not-for-profit systems for virtually all their citizens.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., annual increases in health care costs threatened to bankrupt Medicare and cause Medicaid expenses to consume most of our discretionary national budget, and – as a result – health insurance premiums were rising at double-digit rates.

Of course, by increasing access to our health care system, the ACA increases demand for medical services – driving up costs (albeit at a lower rate than before the ACA).

I put the word “affordable” in quotes because I appreciate that actual affordability is a function of a family’s overall circumstances.  However, that word was first used by the
“conservative” Heritage Foundation in their 1989 study entitled “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans” – which was the genesis of the “individual mandate” (to spread the risk across the largest possible “pool” of insureds) and thus of the ACA.

However, the same Republican party that invented the ACA and mindlessly cut taxes on the wealthy (first tripling and then doubling our National Debt) is now the “Teapugnican” party that has voted 51+ times to repeal it, refuses to invest in job-creating infrastructure projects (which might help your husband’s business thrive), and is actively endeavoring to sabotage both government and the economy for partisan political gain—while refusing to raise taxes on “the 1%”, much less to participate in serious discussions to improve the ACA and thereby bring their own idea to fruition.



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