Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Affordable Care is So Much More than a Website

Opponents lament that the Affordable Care Act is a train wreck leading to economic collapse. They place a dollar value upon human life and believe suffering is inevitable for some, especially those who do not work as hard as they should. I say:

Tenet, the First.

Human life is not quantifiable except perhaps in intellectual exercises between actuaries and insurers.

Tenet, the Second.

Suffering should be alleviated. We must apply imagination, compassion, and collaboration to foster health and defend human dignity for all men, women, and children here and abroad. Time-tested, universal theologies, philosophies, moral precepts, and ethical considerations direct us to do so.


While opponents cry and fuss that a twitchy, glitchy web site is proof positive that the Affordable Care Act has failed, will fail, and cannot succeed--ever, we must remember that even without a functioning web site, the Affordable Care Act has delivered these benefits:

  • Approximately 20% of 14 million people shopping for health insurance in the marketplace for individual health insurance (as opposed to group insurance provided by an employer, for example) will NOT be rejected because they happen to have been born with twitchy, glitchy genes or cells that one day sprang to life as cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease, diabetes, or any other of the thousands of diseases and problems that afflict us. In other words, a pre-existing condition will NOT force individuals to bear the full costs of their health care or die prematurely because they cannot afford health care.
  • No longer will insurers be able to use your premium dollars for overhead, administrative, or marketing costs. The 80/20 rule requires insurance companies to spend 80% of your premium dollars on your health care, and if they do not, return some portion of your premium dollars directly to you or reduce your future premium. In 2013, about 8.5 million Americans received refunds.
  • Young people without full-time employment from an employer offering group health care insurance are often unable to afford comprehensive health coverage, but now their parents can continue to protect them against catastrophic injury or disease until they are 26 years of age. The number-one cause of bankruptcy and repayment default is medical, affecting approximately 2 million Americans. More than 56 million will fall behind or forego some other responsibilities, saving for the future among them, because of the high cost of medical care. So the ACA is vital to America’s financial health, too.
  • No longer will individuals fear the loss of their insurance because they have reached annual or even lifetime policy limits.
  • More preventive screenings are now available with no out-of-pocket cost. No longer will insurers be able to require insured enrolled members to pay more than basic premium dollars for mammograms or colonoscopies and other preventive screenings.
Opponents have also tried to persuade us that Americans already enjoy the best health care system in the world and the best quality of life thanks to our health care. They lie.

“Among 19 countries included in a recent study of amenable mortality [mortality not related to health care], the United States had the highest rate of deaths from conditions that could have been prevented or treated successfully.” Barriers to health care and health insurance are factors in this outcome.

The Affordable Care Act is GOOD for America. It was legislation long, long overdue. It is SO MUCH more than a twitchy web site. It is SO MUCH more than regulation and reform. It is life-sustaining for individuals and the nation.

Tenet, the Third.

Remember that adorable dog in the movie Up? He wore a device to translate his thoughts into words humans can understand, but his doggie nature proved just how easily dogs can be distracted. While introducing himself, the dog suddenly swings its head and cries “Squirrel!”

Dear America, consider yourself as that dog, engaged in short bursts of conversation about health care until someone throws a squirrel into the room. That squirrel goes by the name of harsh criticisms about twitchy, glitchy web sites and fears about broken promises. That squirrel turned your attention from the real issues and sent you chasing after a distraction.

You’re not dogs, America! Focus, listen and learn. Above all, know how the Affordable Care Act serves fellow citizens.