As I watch the Congressional catastrophe unfold in Washington, I have been perplexed over the vitriol towards the Affordable Care Act (ACA)/Obamacare that has brought Congress to its knees, shut half our government down and threatened a government default. As an American and a native Texan, I do not understand why Texas Tea Party conservatives are willing to disrupt thousands if not millions of lives to undermine a law that will benefit millions of Texas citizens. As a wife and mother with a typical family of four and average American income, the ACA gave me tremendous peace of mind. Following are five reasons why I support the new healthcare law.
- The ACA provides access to affordable healthcare in the event of layoffs. As the most recent recession confirmed, no one is safe from layoffs. Business layoffs during downturns were already typical, but remember when policemen, firemen, teachers, and other government employees were laid off or “furloughed” as the idiots on Wall Street decimated retirement and savings accounts? Full time employment is not guaranteed to anyone ever–no matter where one works. Before the ACA, COBRA premiums, which only offered three months of coverage, required the recently unemployed to spend a sizable chunk of their savings (assuming they had enough) for continued coverage. Now with ACA, people have access to healthcare coverage at more affordable rates in the event that they lose their job.
- The ACA mandates coverage without exclusions. During the 2008-2009 economic downturn, we had serious concerns about being laid off and losing our healthcare coverage. In preparation for such an event, I began looking at private insurance. I was stunned to learn that private insurance not only wouldn’t cover our son (children in Texas are covered under CHIP/Children’s Medicaid), it wouldn’t cover my maternity costs either. My first pregnancy culminated in a Caesarean section and even insurance companies that offered maternity benefits (for an exorbitant price) wouldn’t cover someone with a previous C-section. This was not good as my husband and I were trying for our second child. Fortunately, we didn’t need private insurance, but so many others who were laid off suffered because they couldn’t pay for coverage or coverage simply wasn’t available for someone with their condition.
- Some preventative care is covered without copays or coinsurance. Copays, deductibles, and coinsurance add up with well-child and well-woman exams, mammograms, annual physicals, lab work, and flu shots. We put our health at risk by skipping many of these preventative exams because copays, deductibles, and coinsurance could cost as much as a monthly electric bill or a week’s worth of groceries for the entire family. The ACA covers many of these preventive exams at no cost to the individual.
- My children can be covered under our health insurance until age 26 regardless of marital or student status. After dropping out of college for a couple of years to work, I lost access to my parents’ health insurance coverage. As a result I spent most of my twenties without health insurance. Even when I returned to college, my parents couldn’t add me back to their healthcare plan. I made do with health clinics and borrowing money to pay for expenses out of pocket and it was such a relief when I started my first job that offered health insurance. Fortunately, my children will never know this burden even if they choose to go to graduate school or get married.
- It makes starting a small business less financially risky. One of the dreams I have is to build a small business with my husband. Now that the ACA makes health insurance outside of traditional employment financially possible, starting a small business becomes more feasible. Even if we decide against opening our own business, knowing that we could provides great comfort.
Even though I appreciate the opportunities and financial peace of mind the ACA offers, I acknowledge that the ACA has flaws. It doesn’t address astronomically escalating medical costs, and I am concerned about rumors that coverage under the plans is little better than Medicaid with few medical practitioners and clinics participating. Without a doubt the coverage we receive from my husband’s employer offers more choices with fewer out of pocket expenses than a silver plan from the federal marketplace. Also, some people are paying substantially more under the ACA while others are paying less. These are problems I hope to eventually see addressed rather than have the entire law repealed or financially undermined. For now, the Affordable Care Act is a good start at providing Americans with the stability they need to step out, take chances, and continue the innovative work that makes our nation great.