The Affordable Care Act: check it out yourself



You know what they always say: don’t believe everything you hear.  In the case of the Affordable Care Act, this sage advice could not be more valid.

On Oct. 1. the opening of the health care marketplace is the much-anticipated payload of the ACA.  Californians now have access to the state administered exchange, Covered California.

Available in the exchange are private policies, from familiar companies, not from the government.  Consumers decide what coverage they need and healthcare decisions remain in the hands of the patient and doctor.

The ACA was enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2010, and later upheld by the Supreme Court.  Implementation continues, despite a partial federal shutdown.

Meanwhile, deliberate untruths and manipulations of statistics are being used by obstructionists to persuade young people ages 18-34 that they are better off without insurance.  The result is that youth may not have developed a clear idea of what’s in it for them.

But the system simply will not work if young people do not enroll.

Young people are vitally important because they tend to utilize economically efficient services.  Think in terms of annual check-ups, not too many prescriptions, family planning visits, and the typical cold-flu season trips to get the “good cough syrup.”  These services are fairly inexpensive for insurers to cover.

Enrolling healthy young people allows insurers to bank more premiums, which makes that capital available to help cover patients with greater medical needs.

Perhaps this sounds unfair, but the net effect is that funds will be there to cover today’s young people as they age and their health needs increase.

In a trend that has been going on for decades, and compounded by the current recession, consumers have found it increasingly difficult to afford basic health care.

For the uninsured, out-of-pocket medical expenses have increased while wages have stagnated or plummeted.

For the insured, with paychecks stretched to the breaking point, there is simply no budget for co-pays and deductibles.

This simply should not be the case in one of the most prosperous societies in the history of man.  America has enough resources to share.  Healthcare is a right, not a privilege.

Those on the lower end of the income spectrum, frequently young people who are more likely to work part-time in entry-level positions, may not have been made aware of options available to them aside from paying full-price for an exchange policy which may still be financially out of reach.

Subsidies and tax credits will offset the cost of the exchange policies for many consumers, often lowering the price to $0.

Coverage under a parent, employer or spouse’s insurance also fulfill the individual mandate requirement of the ACA.  Californians are fortunate that the state accepted federal assistance to expand our state Medicaid program.  The UC Berkeley Labor Center predicts that 1.4 million Californians will be newly eligible for Medi-Cal.

It’s important for every consumer to research their options.  Non-partisan sites created by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Christian Science Monitor are a good starting point.  More questions can be answered at the official federal Affordable Care Act site, as well as the site for Covered California

It’s a brand new world when it comes accessing health coverage information.  Throw off the naysayers, the pundits and the crazies.  Do your own research.  Make an informed decision.  It’s your legal right to take advantage of the new benefit options, in a way that works for you, and doesn’t break the bank.