Why We Hate The Affordable Care Act
I’m sure we’ve all heard it. Obamacare sucks. Repeal and replace. Anything will be better than this. My premiums are through the roof. I can’t afford to pay for insurance AND pay for what it doesn’t pay.
I don’t question that any of these frustrations are legitimate. If you’re anything like me, which most people aren’t, I tend to not pay attention to the cost of my health plan unless I have to use it and get billed for it by the hospital or doctor’s office. And then I curse out loud and think how stupid I’ve been for not paying attention.
I have discovered in many respects, I am not alone.
Again, I did an opinion poll on social media and in my workplace. I asked some of my family and friends why Obamacare was bad. Here are some of the answers I got.
1. The cost of the affordable care act is not affordable.
I worked for the same large company between 2001 and 2016. Sure, my premiums were going up. But I was healthy and needed to go to the doctor only twice a year. Many middle-class Americans find themselves paying more for insurance as well as out of pocket than they ever did before Obamacare. Those who bring home more than 400% of the federal poverty level pay more for Obamacare, depending on the package they chose and the state they live in. Those who earn 138% or less of the poverty level pay nothing and those who earn between those two numbers pay between 8.05% and 9.5% of their income. So the more you make, the more you pay and if you chose to pay lower premium, you take a chance of paying much more out of pocket if you get sick.
2. Obamacare means paying for services that aren’t even used by all consumers, but are still paid for by all consumers.
This national health plan pays for 10 essential health benefits to all. Some of them are a definite asset because life doesn’t always stick with the plan. We might all find ourselves in a position to need an emergency room visit or hospital visit. But some are essential to only a portion of the population such as maternity care, substance abuse, and colorectal screenings. Personally, if I were pregnant, trying to get clean or worried about cancer, I would be glad for these services. But I am only one person in the population, so I understand the frustration of having to pay for someone else who needs these. Is there a way of providing these services without making everyone foot the bill for the minority who need it?
3. Healthcare shouldn’t be mandatory.
This was one of the biggest fire starters in this opinion poll and understandably so. I have friends and family from both ends of the spectrum; those who are barely making enough to make ends meet and those who have a few luxuries with what they earn. Both groups dislike having mandatory insurance. What’s more is having to pay for something you don’t want in the first place. It implies that we as Americans are not responsible to make our own decisions and accept the consequences of such.
4. The promise to keep our doctors and our plans was not kept under Obamacare.
This is a valid concern. The PCP’s who have taken care of us for decades know us well, and with the stories about new physicians that over-prescribe medications not knowing what’s already being consumed, it’s a bit frightening. So, of course we want to keep our doctors. Unfortunately, the package we chose in the ACA is the one that determines the doctors in the network. Sometimes we end up having to choose a more costly package to keep our doctors. We either lose in cost or lose in preference.
What was health insurance like before Obamacare? As I recall, it cost less and covered more. But again, both my children and myself were healthy. The few times I ended up in the hospital or had to go to the E.R. didn’t put me in the poor house. Not everyone was so fortunate. For anyone who had a preexisting condition, it was tough luck. It was a perk for keeping a job, but a worry for those laid off, and it was better to work for a large company because they actually offered insurance that was partially paid through employment. Even then, as employees got older, the insurance changed. Another flaw in the old system was cap offs of cancer care. Breast cancer treatment, in particular, was too expensive for many, and when completed, many families filed for bankruptcy because of the cost. These are just a few examples of problems with the old system of healthcare.
Is universal coverage the answer?
Let’s look at Canada.
Our northern American counterparts depend on the taxpayers to fund their medical costs. More so, it is the working generations that pay for the older generations deteriorating health. The country did not save to anticipate the cost and so relies on those who pay into the government as a resource. According to the National Review, by 2030, healthcare will consume 80% of the budget, which is 46% of what they paid in 2010. The average Canadian contributes $10,500 annually for personal healthcare, and unless you never have to see a doctor, the benefits are not the rave that we Americans have heard it to be. 29% wait 2 months or longer to see a specialist and 18% wait 4 months or longer.
Is there an option that is affordable, fair and gives us the options we need?
Two suggestions that might work for both parties of Congress: allowing insurance carriers across state lines, which makes it competitive and helps to lower the cost to consumers, and limiting what hospitals are allowed to charge for their services. When they drive up the cost exorbitantly, it leaves consumers and insurance companies struggling to pay the bill and keep premiums down.
Compromise is never an easy task especially when it comes to politics. But if the opposing parties of Congress really are working for the people, they will swallow their pride, suck it up and look for something they can both say yes to. The best the American people can do is hope their ethics are bigger than their egos.