What will happen if the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") is ruled unconstitutional or repealed by Congress? The rulling would have a negative impact on nearly every American.
Two hundred million Americans with private health insurance will again have to worry that their insurance may be canceled if they have a serious and expensive-to-treat illness, or that their benefits will be cut off if they exceed an annual or lifetime limit.
They once again will have copays and deductibles for preventive measures such as mammograms and colonoscopies, and many will not be able to afford the copays. Americans covered by insurance from their employer will know that if they lose their job they and their family will lose their insurance. If they are among the 50percent of adults with a chronic condition, it may prevent their qualifying for new health insurance and they will be wary of changing jobs.
The 52million Americans without health insurance will know they have lost their chance to purchase discounted insurance or to be covered by Medicaid if they have a very limited income.
They will continue to be uninsured and as a result will continue to lack access to ongoing primary and preventive care. The lack of preventive care for more than 15percent of our population will mean that our nation's health outcomes such as life expectancy, infant mortality, maternal mortality and deaths due to preventable disease will continue to lag well behind nations that make sure all their citizens have access to health care.
Forty-eight million people on Medicare will see the cost of their medicine increase and again will fear falling into the doughnut hole in which they will pay full price for their medications. Many will forgo some of their medications. When their physician recommends preventive tests or procedures, they will have to cope with copays and deductibles as they did before the Affordable Care Act was passed.
Millions of young adults will no longer be covered by their parents' insurance, and many of them will become uninsured.
Many of the Americans who believe the Affordable Care Act should be repealed have been convinced it represents a government takeover of health care and that this will diminish the quality of care. People who don't want the government involved in their health care should burn their Medicare cards, refuse to enroll in Medicaid or KidsCare and should not receive care from the Veterans Administration.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is over 2 years old. Though not all provisions have kicked in, enough have to be of genuine benefit to millions of Americans already. I'm one who's already benefited and you might be too.
2.5 million more young adults have insurance coverage thanks to the provision that allowed them to stay on their parents' plan until age 26.
More than 5 million seniors have saved more than $3.1 billion on prescription drug costs. Some, caught in the "doughnut hole" where prescription coverage dropped off, got direct rebates of $250 and, in time, the doughnut hole will be complexly erased.
Millions of people (including me) have not paid a copayment for annual checkups and preventive care such as cancer screenings and contraceptives. They're not free - we pay for those in our premiums.
Insurance companies can no longer drop your coverage when you most need it or deny benefits to any of the 17.5 million children with pre-existing conditions. 62,000 adults have been able to get insurance from Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans and in 2014 everyone with pre-existing conditions must be insured.
When someone faces a devastating diagnosis, they no longer need to worry about their insurance having a lifetime limit on benefits. If they are uninsured, they will have access to new coverage when insurers refuse to offer it.
Insurance companies now have to justify excessive proposed rate hikes, with states establishing review procedures that limit annual increases. Some rate hikes exceeding 10% have already been ruled improper and rolled back, benefiting millions of customers. (Unfortunately for Texans, the Texas Department of Insurance, under heavy pressure from lobbyists, is dragging its feet on this process.)
Performance standards are being enhanced to improve patient care and reduce injury or deaths from medical or hospital errors, a serious problem in the US. The network of community federally-funded health centers is already being expanded. The health care provider industry is among the fastest growing sectors of the American economy, contributing to our recovery from recession and providing millions of good-paying jobs that can't be outsourced to other countries. For example, one young adult I know is completing training as an assistant physical therapist and another just received certification as a massage therapist.
In January 2011, a requirement became effective that insurance companies spend 80% of premiums dollars on direct care, not on administrative costs, CEO salaries and profits. If they fail to spend 80% they have to return the extra money to consumers. Already insurers have had to return $1.3 billion to consumers they overcharged.
Worried about our national debt? Obamacare is beginning to slow the growth in health care spending. Medicare projections of cost increases are $70 billion lower than predictions before Obamacare. As a matter of fact, the Congressional Budget Office reported that, because it contained a number of cost control measures, repealing the act would add significantly to Medicare and Medicaid costs. Repeal would add to our national debt.
And, in case your sympathies lie with the insurance companies, their profits have never been better and, if the law were repealed, they would lose $1 trillion in future revenue. In place of 32 million more customers, they have to meet reasonable standards that protect those customers from abuse.
Still hate that "mandate" even though it hasn't become effective? Well, if you have insurance, as 60% of Americans do, it won't even apply to you at all. And, when it becomes effective, all it will amount to is a penalty on your income taxes that is less than the amount you would pay in insurance. For the tax penalty you would get nothing, but for the health insurance you might get care you would not have otherwise received.
Before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted, 70% of Americans wanted health care reform that would cover everyone. When it passed, Republican leaders said they supported 80% of it. Now, they want to repeal the whole thing and replace it with what? They now say they'll replace it with nothing, nada, zip for millions of Americans. What reason do they give for wanting to repeal it? Again, none except an irrational hatred for our President with such a passion that you and I and our welfare have become irrelevant to them.
Here's the point of the whole thing. Millions more Americans are now able to go to a doctor or be hospitalized or buy medicine and get health care THEY WOULD NOT OTHERWISE have received without Obamacare. How many lives do you suppose have already become healthier, longer or happier? Anyone's guess, but it's sure to be many. For those who would do away with Obamacare, what is it about healthier, longer and happier that you don't like?
by: Nessa Fonblanque