Watching another instant classic Jimmy Kimmel clip made me realize that we supporters of the ACA have been failing. Jimmy Kimmel went to talk with people on the street about whether they supported the Affordable Care Act versus Obamacare. The joke was that everyone supported the ACA and no one liked Obamacare, highlighting the fact that most people failed to realize they were the same thing. I want to make sure you know why I support "Obamacare", aka the Affordable Care Act.
At a recent town hall meeting with CA Secretary of Health and Human Services Diana Dooley, she highlighted that the Affordable Care Act has three legs to it. The “Affordable” part, aka the delivery and finance reform, the "Prevention and Wellness" leg, and the "Coverage Expansion" leg. This third leg, the expansion of coverage starts this week. Each state runs its own health insurance exchange, ours is “Covered California”, which is basically an online marketplace for health insurance. You can visit the website at https://www.coveredca.com/. From my work with creating websites in the past, I have to give major credit to Secretary Dooley and her office for the user interface and ease of use. Check it out yourself, in one of the 14 languages it's been translated into. Starting now, you can “enroll” in health insurance that will go into effect on January 1st 2014. All insurance providers who enter the exchange are required to cover 10 Essential Benefits.
To give you some examples of the coverage rates. If you are single, and make $27,000 a year, your health insurance will cost $175 per month, thanks to a $2460 subsidy by the federal government. Or lets say you are a nurse with a family of 4, earning $88,800 per year, your monthly health insurance will cost $700. Compared to the old individual market, where a family of 4 could cost $2k-3k a month, these are very affordable plans. The rates vary depending on the particulars of the plans you choose of course.
As for the other two legs of the ACA, I’ll be brief, you need to know that with the “Affordable” leg the ACA bans discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and bans insurance caps. For us healthy folks, this doesn’t mean a whole lot, but it is a really big deal. The number one cause of bankruptcy in the US is health care costs. Now, because of the ACA, less people will go bankrupt due to hitting their insurance limits while on chemotherapy treatments or living with cystic fibrosis. With regards to the “Prevention” leg, your routine health screenings, vaccines, and birth control will be free. Many of these perks have started to kick-in already. Check out https://www.healthcare.gov/prevention/ for more.
Is the ACA really such a big deal? A resounding yes. The insurance reform, focus on prevention, and extension of coverage, are exactly what we need in the health care sector. The ACA will make us healthier as people, communities and as a nation. There will be bumps in the road, the ACA is not perfect (has any legislation been perfect ever?), but it is definitely a big step forward. As Congresswoman Anna Eshoo recently remarked about us Americans, “we love our history once it’s been made, but we seldom embrace the fact that we are making it. As someone who was in the Senate chambers on March 23rd 2010, watching the Senators vote for the passage of the ACA like a Giants fan in game 7 of the World Series, I knew that I was part of something historic. I will consider it an privilege to serve my country as a doctor under the Affordable Care Act.
I hope you’ll join me in my support and spread the word yourself.