Some Facts About ‘Obamacare’ for People Who Have Been Listening to Stories

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Here are a few basics about “Obamacare” that often get missed in the conversation:

  1. While a few middle class people in very good health are paying more for their health care than they did before January, most of those are paying more for significantly better benefits.
  2. The original plan was to supplement those with an income up to 133% of poverty through expansion of Medicaid in all states. When the Supreme Court said that was a Federal overreach, several states decided that they would not expand Medicare. There are private organizations in each of those states ticking away exactly how much money those states are leaving on the table by not expanding Medicaid.
  3. If you are poor and you still have no access to health insurance, please refer to point 2. You may live in one of those states. If so, write your representatives and/or governor and ask that they reconsider.
  4. It is no longer legal for a new health care plan to deny coverage for a pre-existing condition. Claims that this is happening are either a) lies or b) misunderstandings about grandfathered plans that were in effect before January 1.
  5. “Mental health parity” is a part of the law, which means that new plans must have mental health coverage comparable to their physical health coverage. It is my opinion that there continue to be major issues with how this is implemented, but it’s still an improvement.
  6. While Obamacare is unnecessarily complicated and unnecessarily a gift to insurance companies, overall, the vast majority of Americans will have their health care improve under the program. If you have issues with the program, ask yourself whether they’re logistical or philosophical. Most people who object to logistical issues with the law have begun supporting “Medicare for All” style plans.
  7. If you “want Obamacare to be repealed,” what do you want to take its place? How well will that policy work? Has it been tried elsewhere? What’s its track records. Contrary to “common knowledge,” things weren’t “just fine” before Obamacare. The United States has atrocious health care compared to most first world nations, and health care access remains among the worst in the world, with many factors contributing to it. Would your solution solve the problem?

This is the bottom line: The law is with us for awhile at least, and it would benefit us all to work to fix the problems with the law. What issues have you had with the law? What have you heard about other people having? What solutions do you think might work? How do you advocate for the solution you prefer? What compromises would you be willing to consider?

My perspective as a health care practitioner who takes both public and private insurance is this: Both Medicaid and Medicare often provide better coverage for basic preventative care than many private insurances, including those bought on the exchanges created by the new law, sometimes at the cost of having fewer choices of providers. By and large the people I work with who use Medicaid and Medicare rarely have finances get in the way of getting to their psychotherapy appointments. Those who use private insurances often have prohibitive co-payments and deductibles. It’s worth looking at.

Don’t allow the complexity of the law intimidate you into stepping away from the conversation. Your voice matters. Speak up on your own benefit, and ask for clarification when you need it. You’ll make the situation better for all of us.

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