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OPINION: Expanded Healthcare Access Worth Fighting For

The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act helps to protect families from being one healthcare crisis away from bankruptcy.

The United States Supreme Court announced its decision last week to of the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act (Public Law 111-148). Since this proposal was introduced by the Obama Administration in 2009, like many others, I have followed the progress of this effort to reform America’s healthcare system. As the debate was just getting started in Congress with regard to healthcare legislation, my family and I faced our own healthcare crisis, which has had a significant impact on my thinking about healthcare as an issue of .

Shortly before the September 2009 introduction of the Affordable Care Act, an unexplained lump appeared near the right ear of my then six-year old son, Alex. Not long after, we received a preliminary diagnosis indicating that the cause appeared to be lymphoma, a form of cancer that strikes the lymph nodes. As you can imagine, my wife and I were immediately consumed with doing whatever needed to be done to respond to this news.

Thankfully, the health insurance provided by my employer allowed us to seek out the very best possible medical care, provided through the caring and clinically-experienced professionals at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System. My wife Patty and I never had to worry about whether we could afford the recommended tests or surgical procedures. Ultimately, the medical bills associated with this episode—from start to finish—were just under $50,000. Of this cost, everything was covered by our health insurance, minus a total of $20 in co-pays for initial doctor/specialist visits. As such, our family was able to rely on access to the best quality of care possible to help treat our son in his hour of need, without worry of having a financial crisis as a result of treatment expenses.

Throughout this time, however, I could not help but think of the millions of American citizens who were not as fortunate as my family. If a family lacking healthcare access got the sad news that we did, what could they do about it?  What resources would an uninsured child have to get the care needed to fight off lymphoma or any other disease?

Thankfully, in early October 2009, we received the happy news that the lump that Alex had was not lymphoma, and he was given a clean bill of health. Yet, as the debate over whether the ultimately successful healthcare bill raged, my family’s experience casts a new light onto the importance of real reform.  I had hoped that people across the political spectrum could agree that no American family should have to live in fear of facing the illness of a loved one without access to quality medical care. 

Even though the Affordable Care Act was ultimately signed into law, until last week its future was in doubt. Many the wisdom of aspects of the law. I simply caution doubters to consider what it would be like to have the experience that my family did, absent health insurance.  Because I wouldn't wish such a fate on anyone, I believe that healthcare reform was the right thing to do.

Tim July 02, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Now THIS I compeltely agree with you. I am most definitely not with the President on this
Tim July 02, 2012 at 12:25 PM
I also hear the CBO (indeed, non-partisan) saying that up to 4 million Americans won't be able to afford health care even under Obamacare, and so they will be taxed/penalized in 2016. First off, they can't possibly have any good idea of how many will actually do this. They're throwing darts at a dartboard. Second, if it actually ends up being an accurate estimate that would imply that a good 98% of Americans would be insured. I'll take it :) The Republicans like to also take CBO estimates on whether it'll operate at a net loss or not. Again, the CBO has no idea and can only use good accounting practices and apply them to gross estimations. Democrats say it'll not cost anything. None of them have a clue. Ultimately, the asnwers won't come (good or bad) until around 2018 or so.
Tim July 02, 2012 at 12:28 PM
CAW: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/what-health-bill-means-for-you/ Check this estimator and see if your situation still applies as you understand it. Maybe it does.
William Lutostanski Jr July 02, 2012 at 01:15 PM
If it is so good then why is the President and congress exempt?
Eric Martin July 02, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Obamacare is flawed in so many ways that it is difficult to know where to start. OC replaces the doctor-patient relationship with the doctor-bureaucrat-patient relationship. OC will ultimately destroy the insurance companies and throw everyone into the government run system. If you love the job the Post Office and the Dept of Motor Vehicles is doing then you'll love Obamacare. As for the cost, OC will drive them skyhigh, resulting in higher taxes and rationing care for older citizens. It is not a good deal. The free market could solve this by ridding us of the third payer system and making everyone aware of the costs of medical care. The government only need concern itself with the 10-12 million citizens who truly are in need of assistance. The benefits would be means tested so that persons who could afford insurance would not be eligible. Catastrophic care could also be part of this social safety net. There is no need to throw out the whole system and replace it with OC or any other universal care system. There are free market reforms that could be instituted to solve the larger issues of cost and availability of care.
wafer July 02, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Doug if you don't get car insurance, you don't drive. I dare you to go tell MVA you don't want insurance and I dare you to tell them you won't pay that 150.00 per day penalty or excuse me "tax"
wafer July 02, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Umm if you go to the hospital or the emergency room and don't pay and don't have insurance, indeed you will be a free-rider. For the life of me I don't know why ppl think they should get free healthcare? For the ppl who say they are healthy, go outside and God forbid you get hit by a car. Fifty thousand dollars easy- are you willing to cough up that money upfront? Also to all the ppl covered by your employers- who are against universal healthcare-you know your employes subsidize these plans. I suggest you go to your human resources department tomorrow and cancel your insurance because after all it is too expensive for your employer.
Jeanne July 02, 2012 at 04:06 PM
To Mr Jeffery Smith I am so glad your son is fine and you have good insurance that you were able to get help for him. Earlier this year they discovered a blood clot in my right lung, I had to go on a blood thinner and was taken off medicene that helps my legs and back because of interaction problems. I have had over 10 doctor appointments so far, when is see my primary care doctor it is a $15.00 copay and specialist (and I feel like I have seen them all) it is a $25.00 copay.At least 6 of the doctor visits were specialist at $25.00 each plus 10% coinsurance. For example when I went to the cardiologist they did an EKG each time and thats what the 10% is for, it is not covered under the office visit charge by our insurance co. I have had several chest xrays, ct scans of my chest, test on my heart, etc...... As of June 30th this clot has cost us over $700.00 after the insurance paid their share.
Jeanne July 02, 2012 at 04:06 PM
I have Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance and the meds the doctor took me off for my legs and back have caused a lot of problems since I can't take them, my husband and I have had to plan for the possibility of me ending up in a wheel chair by the end of the year. My insurance refuses to pay for physical therapy to keep my legs going so I don't end up in a wheelchair but they will pay for the wheelchair (with a coinsurance of course). We have eaten up the money we have been saving for two years for a much needed vacation and my husband has used the majority of his vacation days taking me to doctors, er, etc.... Some people have great insurance, most don't.
Steve July 02, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Wrong Tim. everyone who has examined this monstrosity agrees the the middle class is going to bear the brunt of the cost as usual. Go to any source you like and read the text of the 21 new taxes. I used the government calculator to see how it will affect my family directly. The coverage will be almost $150/month more than I can get now and the deductible goes from $500 to 15% of the total cost, meaning it skyrockets. The out-of-pocket for a $30,000 operation goes from $500 to $4,500. And it I don't want this garbage program, I pay a $2,085 tax.
Other Tim July 02, 2012 at 04:16 PM
I am truly sorry to hear about your medical issues. What I cannot quite grasp is that you seem to think contributing $700 is too much to pay as your portion. You can probably find a policy that covers everything, but it would cost a small fortune. We simply cannot afford as a nation to have all costs for all things paid for.
Steve July 02, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Thomas Sowell said it best. "It is amazing that people who think we can't afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medicine think that somehow we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medicine, and a federal bureaucracy to administer it." Simple common sense to anyone who knows anything at all about the track record of the federal government. Ever heard of social security? Medicare? Medicaid? Fannie Mae? Freddie Mac? The Post Office? Everything the feds run is a bankrupt black hole of wasted money. Can anyone name even one thing that became less expensive after the feds took it over? One? Believing that Obamacare is anything but the largest tax increase in human history and a massive theft of personal choice and rights is just living in a fantasy world.
Other Tim July 02, 2012 at 05:17 PM
That is a great quote!
Tim July 02, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Steve: I'm curious - mind linking the calculator you used to estimate your costs with Obamacare?
FIFA July 02, 2012 at 06:55 PM
@Steve - ask seniors who get Social Security as their sole source of income is it a good idea. Ask seniors who rely on Medicare if it is a good idea. Compare the rates of our Post Office to the rest of the world and see if 45 cents to mail a letter anywhere is a good idea. What does UPS do to abuse the system, they send a package as far as it is economically profitable for them, then then pay the Post Office a horribly small amount to finish delivering the package. Ask those who now own a house because of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac is it a good idea. I presume the Defense Department is a bad idea. I presume a well run FEMA is a bad idea in your mind. Go Steve. Run for Congress.
William Lutostanski Jr July 02, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Fifa the problem is none of these things are well run. The Post Office loses billions per year, SS is insolvent , as is medicare. Why is the President and Congress exempt from Obamacare ? Does anyone have an answer?
FIFA July 02, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Delete FIFA 4:01 pm on Monday, July 2, 2012 You are factually incorrect sir. The post office is restricted politically from raising rates as needed and mandated to fund pension liabilities at an extraordinary rate. You are factually incorrect sir. Social Security is not insolvent and actually has a large amount of equity. The problem is politicians borrow ("steal") from it. You are factually incorrect sir. FedEx and UPS make money because they take the cream. The Post Office has to serve everyone in the US no matter where they are. The problem with Meicare is it only gets its funding from earned wages. Thus the very wealthy who only have interest income and dividends avoid the tax. Sir, check facts, don't repeat talking points please.
William Lutostanski Jr July 02, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Fifa The Post office is losing billions. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/10/postal-service-quarterly-losses_n_1506601.html. This is a fact. Medicare will be unable to fullfill its obligations by 2024 and SS will follow in 2033 according to treasury secretary Tim Geithner. http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/24/nation/la-na-medicare-report-20120424. This is a fact. Again why is the President and Congress exempt from Obamacare?
Tim July 02, 2012 at 08:32 PM
The free market has already failed, with all of the greed base abuses that have taken place. Screwing the poor sap who dares work for himself, or those with pre-existing conditions. Although I agree that the better solution would be better regulating private industry (versus potentially taking a more active role), to say that the existing system works great is patently false. Folks get screwed left and right. Any opportunity an insurance company can stick people they can and do.
Tim July 02, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Bill, You do realize that, technically speaking, the Post Office isn't government funded...right? The post office's problem is (simply put) they should've cut all mail delivery to 3 days a week - 5 years ago. Different issue so I'll stop on this tangent. I don't have an answer as to your other question. Although I wouldn't have an answer to why they are allowed to insider trade (oops, up until a couple months ago!) either. Speculation: They are so wealthy/powerful they have no issue getting top flight care, and probably not paying for it, either.
FIFA July 02, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Sir, why is the Post Office losing billions? What are the facts, sir? Do you understand accounting sir? The Republicans demand funding pensions now, but then will not let the Post Office raise rates to cover those demands, sir. Bankruptcy is a point in time, not a future point in time. As in now, not in the future sir. Insolvency is today, not later. Gee, why do politicians routinely exclude themselves, the answer is they continue to get re-elected, so we must not care, sir.
Tim July 02, 2012 at 08:40 PM
and as FIFA said, Social Security - if it had been actually left alone and not pilfered by the same government schleps voted in over the past 30 years, would be in great shape. it's a bi-partisan issue. Theft, corruption, abuse of power. Despite all this, it's solvent for another 25 years. I personally think the SS relief tax implemented by President Obama AND Congress is a terrible idea. It was terrible when it first was implemented, and even worse that it's been renewed. It's a real life, today, example of how our Social Security is being pilfered. I see FIFA covered Medicare as well, which is good because I really have no functional knowledge of that program.
William Lutostanski Jr July 02, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Tim , I did not bring up the post office issue. Fifa brought up government run agencies/programs to make his point as to what would we do without such things. My point is simple, anything the government touches turns into a giant bureaucratic mess usually resulting in insolvency. The quasi government run Post Office is only one example. Now add health care. I don't even want to think about how messed up it is going to get. As for Congress and the Presidents current health care, we fit the bill for it no matter how wealthy or elite they are, so when they exempt themselves from a law thats supposed to be good for everyone I become suspicious.
William Lutostanski Jr July 02, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Fifa, It is losing billions because of Congress, both Democratic and Republican controlled, that was kinda the whole point. Do we want these people running health care? I for one do not. I will add the words " will be" to my statement of insolvency, hope that makes you feel better, but the facts still remain. You are factually incorrect in your statement that we must not care. I do care, maybe it you who does not.
Marty Warren July 02, 2012 at 09:09 PM
If obamacare is so good, why all the well documented bribes and kickbacks to get it passed like "The Louisiana Purchase" and "The Corn Husker Kickback" and why all the exemptions, including and especially the UAW and the public sector unions. The unions said they needed an exemption because they couldn't afford it. If they can't afford, most companies won't be able to. If you ask Americans "Do you support Health Care reform", 80% say Yes. If you ask "Do you support obamacare", 67% say no. There is a reason for that.
FIFA July 02, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Regarding the Post Office's losses, they were forced by Republicans to fund billions of dollars in pension obligations unlike any other part of government, sir. Thus creating the very losses the Republicans now whine about in a clear attempt to dissolve a union. The problem with the Post Office is they are not independent, but subject to the whim of Congress. Close a Post Office? Nuts! There are so many tiny ones near each other it is crazy. Stop Saturday delivery, you would think the world is ending. Regarding insolvency, it is just a factual matter I asked you to correct, thank you sir for doing so. Your argument on insolvency presumes no changes will be made, they must change sir or your prediction will come true.
Paul Amirault July 02, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Hi Marty, Hope all is well. Regarding why all "the stuff" as I call it in the bill? Politics is like making sausage (which I have seen) it is ugly. Is Obamacare what I wanted, no, I would have preferred Medicare for all and let me opt out of health insurance through my taxes. In my opinion the reason for the poll numbers is simply advertising. Over $200 million has been spent by Pacs, not including Fox, fighting the ACA, thus the polls. The key for changing that is to show and tell everyone exactly what the bill does and has done. We still have our wager? I have a button for you!
Tim July 02, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Except the healthcare reform's never come. There's also a reason for that, and I'll give you a hint: It's holding the majority of the House of Reps.
William Lutostanski Jr July 03, 2012 at 12:16 AM
They don't come when the Democrats hold the majority either.
Tim July 03, 2012 at 01:57 PM
William: Dems have been trying to get national health care passed for decades. granted, you or I may not agree with what they consider "reform"... it helps when you actually have a Democrat as President. That's happened just twice in the past 40 years before Obama.

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