When I was asked to write a blog about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for the Florida Consumer Health Alliance, I felt both excited and exhausted. Of course I am excited to tout the good things in the ACA such as no more denials because of pre-existing conditions, no annual or life time limits, kids can stay on their parents’ policy until age 26, free preventive care, free birth control, premium rebates from insurance companies if they don’t spend 80 to 85% of premiums collected on health care, the so-called prescription “donut hole” closing for seniors, and financial protection from medical debt.
In these past years as a navigator I have seen many of these protections make a real difference in people’s lives.
During the first open enrollment period I assisted many consumers who had been denied insurance for years because of a pre-existing condition living in fear of losing everything they had worked for their entire life as a result of an illness. They were finally able to buy health coverage and sleep at night. Parents are happy to have their children on their plan until age 26. People go for their free well-care visit. Women now have access to free birth control, mammograms and pap smears. Colonoscopies are part of the preventive care package.
Consumers understand that access to preventive care is important and over the years it has become very clear to me that people want health insurance coverage. They don’t want to go back to the pre-ACA era when insurance companies were able to rescind your insurance after you got sick or cut off your care because you hit the annual or lifetime limit of your policy or deny you a treatment.
On the other hand, I am exhausted by the continued argument that we simply can’t afford it. “It” being the ability to receive medical care when you need it and not go bankrupt when you do. “It” is a basic human right. The fact is that we will all get sick at some point in our lives and need medical care. So why can’t we agree that everyone should have access to affordable, quality health care?