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Jeanie Larson: Affordable health care and you

Posted: July 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

With all of the discussion, sometimes bordering on hysteria, about the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare), it’s time for all of us to take a collective deep breath and calmly, coherently, look at the facts.
The main point of disagreement appears to be the individual mandate and whether that constitutes a tax or a penalty.


Regardless of semantics, if you have health insurance, you will not be fined/penalized/taxed. Period.
If you choose not to have health insurance, then the burden of your irresponsibility shifts from the rest of us to where it belongs: you.


You will be fined/penalized/taxed. Pick a verb and pay up.
If some people choose to play Russian roulette with their health by not having health insurance, why should the rest of us subsidize their irresponsibility?


That’s exactly what happens now, as every family pays an estimated additional $1,100 per year in increased health care premiums, much like the uninsured motorist fee on our car insurance, to pay for the uninsured’s unpaid health care.


Another criticism of this law is that it robs us of our freedom. How much freedom do we now have when decisions about our health are controlled by the health care industry whose main purpose is to make a profit?
The Affordable Care Act will force this industry to act more responsibly by no longer allowing them to deny care to those with pre-existing conditions, to cancel policies of those who become ill, or to place lifetime limits on coverage.
Gone will be the days of life- and-death decisions being made from a profit-driven standpoint.
There is certainly nothing wrong with a business making a profit, and with the individual mandate with more people being covered, this industry can continue to enjoy a reasonable profit, just not at the expense of providing needed health care.  


Administrative costs (aka outrageous salaries) must also be more reasonable and responsible, or those of us who pay those costs through our premiums will be due a rebate from the company.


This industry is not accepting these changes without a fight, however, not with their multi-million dollar bonuses at stake.  According to a recent CNN report, the health care industry is poised to launch a $200 million advertising campaign designed to distort the facts about the Affordable Care Act.


The most important defense against such an assault is the truth. Go to www.healthcare.gov to read the facts about the law.


In addition to the end of pre-existing conditions exclusion and lifetime limits, which will go into effect when the law is fully implemented in 2014, the ACA has already accomplished the following:


Preventive care, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, with no out of pocket cost. This will save countless lives and dollars as diseases are discovered earlier when they are more treatable and less costly to treat.


Two million children with pre-existing conditions are now covered, and are able to obtain needed healthcare.
  

Young adults up to the age of 26 years can remain on their parents’ insurance policies.


For seniors, the “doughnut hole” of prescription-drug coverage closes, allowing us to become a country where our oldest citizens no longer have to choose between groceries and their medication.


Currently, according to the American Journal of Medicine, 500,000 bankruptcies occur each year in this country because of medical bills or illness, and 45,000 people die because they don’t have health insurance. We are the only non-Third World country that doesn’t provide health care for its citizens and, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, the World Health Organization ranks the U.S. 37th in health care worldwide.


As a country, we are better than this. As individuals, we need to look beyond the distortions presented by those who have a vested interest and beyond the politicians who spew fabricated facts and figures. Go to the non partisan Congressional Budget Office’s website (www.cbo.gov) to learn the true costs of this law (an estimated $143 billion savings over the next 10 years) and to www.healthcare.gov to learn the facts about the law and how it impacts you.


The Affordable Care Act is not perfect. With the complex issue of providing health care, there realistically can be no perfect law, but the Affordable Care Act will save dollars, and much more importantly, it will save lives.


Jeanie Larson is a Valencia resident and former registered nurse.

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