I’ve held off forming a real opinion about President Obama’s healthcare plan, The Affordable Care Act. It was such an ugly battle just to get the plan through Congress. It seems such a large and overwhelming undertaking that I didn’t know where to start in looking at what the plan actually included. And to be honest, we have really good health insurance so I figured it wouldn’t affect me much. But the current Supreme Court hearing on the plan and the GOP’s attack on women’s healthcare have made me stop and rethink my non-position.
I’ve learned about specific provisions in the ACA that apply to women. I got an email about the issue from the group UltraViolet. They listed 5 ways Obama’s healthcare bill will benefit women. Here’s a summary, but go to their site for more info:
1. Being a woman is no longer a “pre-existing condition.” Things like preganancy, rape, domestic violence were considered pre-existing conditions under old law.
2. Insurance companies can’t charge you more for being a woman either. The ACA will put an end to “gender rating” from insurance companies that leaves women with a bigger health insurance bill in many states.
3. Having a pap smear still sucks, but at least you don’t have to shell out a co-pay for it. Coverage for preventive care will improve–this includes screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer and more.
4. You also don’t need a co-pay for birth control anymore. I go back over and over to the statistic that 60% of women using birth control pills are using them for medical conditions. We absolutely need good coverage for health reasons, but let’s not forget the importance of family planning as well.
5. Your kids will be able to stay on your health insurance policy until they’re 26. One less thing to worry about.
I know other groups, such as seniors and small business owners, have different concerns. Groups like AARP and American Academy of Pediatricians support the ACA. One article I read said that the more people read the specifics of the ACA, the more they like and agree with it. Jason Linkins at the Huffington Post does a good job of sorting through some of the distortions and objections to the ACA.
I’m still on the fence. I’m skimming around the internet looking at different opinions. One concern I have is for families who would be required to buy insurance. There is a hardship clause which is good, but about 16 million people will be required to pay for health insurance. What will those monthly figures look like? I have too many friends who are productive, working members of society without health insurance. Many of them have children. It just seems that healthcare should be a basic safeguard. We’ll see what the Supreme Court has to say about the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and if the government can require people to purchase healthcare.
There are claims that ACA will protect against medical bankruptcy. Medical bills account for the majority of all bankruptcy cases, according to one article I read. In many cases, those filing for medical bankruptcy have health insurance. I’m trying to understand how the protections in the ACA work because there are reasonable arguments for both sides. I contacted Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office about this particular issue. Her staff forwarded me the following info:
There are two key provisions that will help prevent medical bankruptcies-
· Ending lifetime limits. As of September 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act prohibits insurers from imposing lifetime limits on coverage. Before that, there were 105 million Americans who had health insurance plans that imposed some type of lifetime limit on coverage. In the past, a family with an individual with a very serious illness or a very serious accident could hit the lifetime limit in a few years – forcing in many cases the family to declare bankruptcy for medical reasons.
·Out-of-pocket cap. Starting in January 2014, individuals will be protected by a cap on their out-of-pocket costs in their health plan – also reducing the risk of experiencing a medical bankruptcy.
So I started this article with the intention of reaching a very firm decision on the Affordable Care Act. And there’s a lot I agree with in the bill. It seems fairly basic to me that serious illness shouldn’t bankrupt people. Women shouldn’t be charged more for health insurance just because they’re women. I’m not really getting stuck in the small details. I’m wondering if Obama’s plan does enough to address the big picture problems with the American healthcare system; things like prescription drug prices, the limits on how long doctors can spend with patients, pharmaceutical companies paying doctors to prescribe certain drugs. Practices that leave patients feeling like a list of symptoms and not people. To me, these are such important and daunting issues that I have trouble wrapping my mind around the whole thing.
What do you think?