I was going to title this post D-Day but decided that was too harsh since it refers to the day a military attack is unfurled. Too many people, on both sides of the aisle, view Obamacare in military terms. In fact, the whole fight mentality is part of the problem. It has caused a lot of Americans to tune out exactly when they need to dial in and be informed. We need to be realistic and reasonable in how we approach healthcare reform because everyone agrees costs have spiraled out of control at exactly the time when government resources are strapped. Since we’re talking about healthcare, it seems H-Hour is a more appropriate term for this post. The hour has arrived when Americans are confronting healthcare reform. Today is the deadline when those without insurance have to sign up or face penalties of either 95 dollars or 1% of their incomes, whichever is greater. I signed up last week, paid my first premium and am now feeling relief that I am protected in a catastrophic event. Having said that, I am far from satisfied with the outcome.
I don’t qualify for assistance (nor would I ask for it) and don’t mind paying a little more for coverage, as long as doing so opens the umbrella to those who have never been able to get it. I was willing to pay a little more but didn’t want to have to give up what was working. I did choose to go through a private insurer who knew me and my health history.
What I got is very different from what I wanted. I am happy that 100 percent of preventive care is covered (yoga isn’t but chiropractic care is) and wanted continuity of care by still having access to my same doctors. Like many Americans, I have always chosen my doctors based on a variety of factors, including experience, referrals, professional credentials and history. Imagine my concern that I am now paying about the same in premiums but none of my doctors will be participating in my plan. And guess what? I don’t blame them. Why should an excellent doctor accept brokered payments that reduce their compensation while adding additional costs to their practices and mandates over what tests doctors should or should not be ordering? There is a reason we have the best healthcare in the world. Traditionally, we have valued good doctors.
A friend whose husband is an undeniable do-gooder (he works to promote green energy, for goodness sake!) is now paying 15,000 dollars a year to get her family of four covered. Wow. That was unexpected. A young relative, who is a gifted artist and was uninsured, is having to apply for a full-time job to get benefits after his parents got a bill for 60,000 dollars after he was treated for appendicitis. Here in Missouri, a prominent Republican, formerly an outspoken foe of Obamacare, is now advocating for this state to expand Medicaid. That’s because hospitals, who have no where to turn when dealing with patients who have fallen between the cracks, are overwhelmed by these new costs. Personally, I recognize that the Affordable Care Act means someone like me won’t be denied coverage for run of the mill problems like high blood pressure and the occasional stiff neck and shoulder. But, states should be concerned about taking money to expand Medicaid when funding could run out, when only a 1/4 of the enrollees are young and healthy, when so many Americans, especially Latinos, seem uncomfortable trusting the Federal Government with such personal concerns as their medical histories. And so many small businesses simply can’t afford to comply with the mandate to provide health insurance.
The latest polls show only a 1/4 of Americans are happy with the Affordable Care Act as it stands. The thing that irritates them the most is the mandate or penalty if they don’t sign up. It motivated me because I didn’t want to pay 1% of my income. Most polls show most Americans like that those with pre-existing conditions can no longer be barred from coverage. Americans did soften in their opposition to Obamacare over the last couple of months but only incrementally. And fewer are in favor of an outright appeal. It’s time for Republicans to promote a reasonable response that includes an acknowledgement that something needs to be done. I don’t have the answers but I do hope we can stop short of trying to fix what isn’t broken and just fix what is.