Randy’s Ramblings: There’s a lot to like about the Affordable Care ActOpinion
The Republican Party seems to have hitched its wagon to the idea that undoing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will be a political winner in the 2012 elections. But I wonder how Americans would feel about having the benefits of Obamacare, as it is commonly called, pulled away from them if the GOP does regain the White House and total control of Congress.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
The Republican Party seems to have hitched its wagon to the idea that undoing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will be a political winner in the 2012 elections.
Judging from the current polls, it could be right.
But I wonder how Americans would feel about having the benefits of Obamacare, as it is commonly called, pulled away from them if the GOP does regain the White House and total control of Congress.
My guess is that most people — if they knew about it — would support the ban on lifetime dollar limits on health insurance coverage that is part of the act.
I’ve read and heard that half or more of personal bankruptcies are linked directly to health problems, and lifetime and yearly coverage limits are certainly part of the reason for it.
Until now, coverage limits have been a real worry for people suffering from cancer and other chronic (and highly expensive) diseases. I know someone who votes Republican for whom it has been a concern.
Already, more than 2.1 million Wisconsin residents, including 791,000 women and 580,000 children, are free of lifetime limits on coverage, according to the White House.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act would once again give the United States the dubious distinction of being the only modernized Western country in which a disease can take away not only your health, but also your wealth.
Does anyone want to go back to when your new insurance company could deny coverage for your child with a pre-existing condition after you changed jobs and insurance plans?
How many want to forgo the same rule about pre-existing conditions scheduled to go into effect for adults in 2014?
I know people — solid conservatives otherwise — who are on government insurance plans because they’ve been denied coverage by private insurers due to a pre-existing condition.
I’m sure it was a humbling — and I hope eye-opening — experience for them. There are times when market regulation is the only civilized thing to do.
About 54 million Americans with private health insurance are now getting preventative care such as colonoscopies, mammograms and diabetes checkups at no additional cost than their premiums — including more than 1.1 million Wisconsinites.
I didn’t pay for a flu shot this year, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t charged for a physical.
As of last June, 27,511 young Wisconsin adults had health insurance because of a provision in the Affordable Care Act allowing them to stay on their parents’ family plan until age 26, according to the White House. The number is probably higher now.
My guess is that a majority of Wisconsinites don’t want to return to young adults getting booted off their parent’s coverage immediately after leaving the household or college.
Retired people probably don’t want to return to paying the full cost of their prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole in their Medicare coverage. In 2011, they received a 50 percent discount on their brand-name drugs after reaching the donut hole. Under the Affordable Care Act, the donut hole will be closed by 2020.
Who’s against making insurance companies give customers a rebate or reduce premiums if they don’t use at least 80 percent of their revenue for patient care? The bar is 85 percent for the biggest plans.
I suspect it’s the insurance executives with multi-million-dollar compensation packages that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is looking out for when it runs its TV ads supporting opponents of the Affordable Care Act (like U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, our new congressman) and opposing supporters of the act. It sure isn’t consumers or the millions of working Americans who don’t have access to health insurance they can afford through their employers.
Understandably, owners of small businesses are worried about what the law could cost them.
But there are tax credits for those small businesses generous enough to provide health insurance for their employees. It’s up to 35 percent now, and will increase to 50 percent in 2014.
Business owners also will be able to shop the insurance exchanges that will go into effect in 2014, lowering their premiums by a predicted 18 percent.
Employers with fewer than 50 employees won’t have to provide coverage or pay an assessment if their employees obtain insurance and tax credits through an exchange.
Calling the Affordable Care Act socialism is disingenuous. It’s a long way from the single-payer (Medicare for all) system liberals hoped for back in 2009. There’s not even a government-run (public option) insurance plan to compete with private insurers.
The companies selling the insurance are from the private sector — as are the doctors and clinics and almost all the hospitals.
The computer-accessed insurance exchanges will introduce a level of competition currently lacking in the health care market. And the somewhat universal coverage mandate — if it isn’t struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court — is what makes the system financially feasible.
For me, the Affordable Care Act offers a glimmer of hope of retiring before I’m eligible for Medicare, given the insurance exchange and premiums limited to a maximum of 9.8 percent of income.
But the strongest argument for Obamacare, from an ethical standpoint, is that around 34 million of the more than 50 million American adults currently without health insurance will gain coverage. Most of them are the working poor.
Callous disregard and willful ignorance of their plight is all too common in the media, circles of power and the public consciousness. Caring about the working poor and near-poor may not be politically expedient in today’s culture, but it’s the right thing to do.