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My Healthcare — and Yours — Hangs in the Balance

With the Supreme Court ruling on 'Obamacare' expected any day now, our 'Patch In' columnist explains why she hopes the justices will let the law stand.

 

My family may lose our health insurance this coming Saturday.

But by this Thursday, millions of people will find out if they will be able to afford healthcare coverage as spelled out in President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)—more familiarly known as “Obamacare.”

Sometime this week, the Supreme Court will hand down its decision on the constitutionality of ACA, likely by this Thursday.  One of the major objections opponents have to the law is whether or not the government can mandate that all citizens have to buy or secure health insurance—the ‘individual mandate.’ They argue it’s unconstitutional, and that government cannot force anyone to buy anything.

Healthcare coverage is not just divisive legally; it’s a hot-button topic academically, politically, economically, and, of course, personally. When my husband was laid off 18 months ago, in addition to immediately questioning how we’d keep paying the mortgage and put food on the table, the biggest question was, “What about medical coverage?”

Thankfully, his former employer offered coverage through COBRA. It was an incredibly expensive option, but it allowed us to maintain coverage at exactly the same level we’d been used to, albeit at a costlier level.

COBRA only lasts 18 months.  As of this writing we have four days left.

Now facing the myriad search for health insurance, we’ve filled out an application for a plan. At least with the options we considered at the price we could afford, we were presented with plans that didn’t cover maternity or mental health. Fingers crossed, we’ll get the approval—we have children, and we want coverage for wellness care as well as for the ‘god forbid’ situations. But to do so we had to detail every bump, bruise, diagnostic procedure, doctor visit, medical problem and possible family history issue of the last 10 years. We wondered, would anything raise a flag and possibly prevent us from getting coverage?

There’s family history of colon and stomach cancer; would routine screenings still be covered for that? What about family history of thyroid cancer; would I still be able to have a yearly ultrasound screening to check, even without incidence of the disease myself? Would the one visit we made to the E.R. exactly nine years and 11 months ago lower our chances for being approved?

Everyone has a story, some more sob story than others, when it comes to coverage. I have a friend who has MS, and no matter that she has been gainfully employed since forever and a day, she’s unable to secure healthcare coverage at all. During the debate over the ACA in Congress, stories popped up daily of individuals who would otherwise suffer unless the legislation passed.

There are passionate arguments and rational defenses of both sides. Of course, I’m encouraged when even a conservative writes to defend the constitutionality of the ACA. For me, I think this is a law that should be upheld. There are several important things that will be supported by the passage of this law, and should it be struck down by an activist court, we stand to lose greatly.

  1. More than 30 million Americans who are currently without healthcare coverage, will be able to find coverage because of the ACA.
  2. Small businesses will have more ability to find competitive pricing on plans and they’ll get tax credits for providing insurance for their employees.
  3. No longer will Americans with pre-existing conditions be denied insurance coverage, as of 2014.
  4. Other disenfranchised groups will have more protection and ability to keep or find coverage—including early retirees and lower income families. Also, more than 3.1 million young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ health care plans through the age of 26.

These advantages not only benefit the individual but they truly serve our business community—small businesses will be able to attract and keep employees by being able to provide attractive benefit plans; workers can better maintain their health, keeping up their ability to work and increasing productivity. Economically, it will be a fairer marketplace.

Interestingly, the public, for the most part, supports the separate parts of the law, but when asked whether they support Obamacare, 56 percent of them say no, according to a Reuters poll out this past Sunday. Over 60 percent are opposed to the individual mandate. To me, that says the Republicans have done a much better P.R. campaign than the Democrats and the Obama administration have.

Who knows how the Supreme Court justices will rule this week. It’s so up in the air that, according to the New York Times, last week House Speaker John Boehner issued a memo to his fellow Republicans, stating, “We will not celebrate at a time when millions of our fellow Americans remain out of work, the national debt has exceeded the size of our nation’s economy, health costs continue to rise, and small businesses are struggling to hire.” The question is whether all Republicans agree that absolute for or against isn’t what is best for the public—or for their future electability.

Healthcare is such a complex, difficult animal to legislate, it’s remarkable that any legislation got through at all, given how much disagreement there has been during this administration and failures during past ones.

Let’s hope the Supreme Court justices decide to keep moving the country in a forward direction—and perhaps the voters will have their final, Democratic say about it, come November.

Commentor June 26, 2012 at 10:41 AM
What are they going to do to the many people who won't buy insurance when they get sick? Put them in jail ? Take care of them anyway and the costs will get covered through taxes? Why didn't they start implementing the program BEFORE Obama goes up for a second term? Could it be they don't think it will work or the costs will be very high? I think there is a big need for changing our health care system but I don't know if the Obamacare plan is the way to go.
AmyRuthBlue June 26, 2012 at 12:32 PM
nice article, and I hope for the author's sake and for literally MILLIONS of other uninsured but working Americans, that the Affordable Care Act remains.
Sue Polaski June 26, 2012 at 01:36 PM
You know something is wrong Clue number 1:when the majority of the bill is delayed for years, and as commentator says, *after* the his reelection campaign. Clue number 2: Waivers all over the place esp for big supporters of Obama.This whole stinks since day 1.
--- June 26, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Health care is not a right. The government cannot force it upon you and then claim it is a right. While it indeed tugs at the heart strings, (a common ploy amongst liberals), the truth is that our government cannot force me or you to purchase anything lest we face a penalty. That, my friends, is unConstitutional and dangerously close to being tyrannical.
AmyRuthBlue June 26, 2012 at 05:59 PM
yes, the govt. can DBJr. and they do. do you have a driver's license? do you pay to renew it? do you have auto insurance? do you pay each year for it? once you buy a house, the local govt. "forces" you to pay certain taxes. health care, like education, is a basic need. government, if nothing else, is supposed to be in the interest of the common good, of seeing that the basic needs of its citizens are met. we have public and private schools. we need public health care, rather than only private, bloated insurance bureaucracies who deny millions of people coverage.
Karl June 26, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Imagine a doctor's visit being as pleasant as a visit to the DMV!
--- June 26, 2012 at 08:09 PM
"yes, the govt. can DBJr. and they do. do you have a driver's license? do you pay to renew it? do you have auto insurance? do you pay each year for it? once you buy a house, the local govt. "forces" you to pay certain taxes. " None of those things are rights. Healthcare is not a right. Driving is not a right. Home ownership is not a right. Stop playing the emotion card. Not all of us in America find peace in being on the government dole.
AmyRuthBlue June 26, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I'm not playing anything. I am not a liberal and am not on any kind of dole. Health insurance is completely out of control. The prices are highly inflated, the premiums keep rising while the coverage keeps shrinking, and millions of Americans have jobs with NO health insurance coverage, and are denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. That is wrong. Are you on a dole when you drive down paved roads and on bridges? Give me a break, The government has a ROLE TO PLAY in our society. We are civilized here. And ALL THE OTHER DEVELOPED COUNTRIES LIKE US provide their citizens with an affordable public option of health care. There are MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO NEED IT.
Commentor June 26, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Yes, they force you to get car insurance but many people don't and that's why one of the most important partd of auto insurance that you should get is "uninsured motorist insurance" -- that way when someone without insurance (which is quite common around here -- just get hit in Danbury and the driver runs off from an accident with an unregistered, uninsured car because they're not legal...." and you'd better have uninsured driver's insurance..... ) you get covered by your own insurance and aren't penalized for the accident since it's not your fault. The same thing is going to happen with health care -- people are going to be using it but many won't pay for medical insurance -- it's tough to collect fines from people who have nothing (at least on paper). Are we going to throw someone out of the hospital because they don't have insurance? Someone's going to pay for his medical services and I think it will me and you or people who pay taxes.
Commentor June 26, 2012 at 09:42 PM
I agree we need to do something but I don't think the Obama Plan is the way to go. We need to explore other options. Maybe we should do what Ford did and do some benchmarking from other countries that are successful with excellent, quality medical care without a high price for everyone. You may think prices are out of control now but wait until Obamacare comes into effect -- it will help some people but how are they going to pay for it?
Bill Hillman June 27, 2012 at 03:48 PM
An assertion that something (like "affordable health care") is a right is actually an opinion. Do you classify it along with the inalienable rights enumerated in the Declaration of independence as G-d given? A "right" to purchase an insurance policy at a price? Certainly a reasonable floor level of health care for all is highly desirable, a truly worthy goal, a benchmark for a civilized society. It's not really a "right" as described by the nation's founders, such a life, liberty, etc. Should food be subsidized? It would seem that affordable food gets closer to a "right" than an ability to purchase a complex commercial financial hedging product. What about the "Right" to get a service from another person (Health Care providers). If one has a Right to Receive, does that IMPOSE and obligation to give? We used to call that indentured servitude or worse. Can the government force people to become Doctors who must be compelled to provide a service to someone who has a "right" to receive those services? What happens to Liberty?
Carl June 27, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Those other countries that have excellent quality/ low cost care are all single payer. And those out of control prices? The law requires insurance companies run a minimum percentage of premiums be spent on actual medical care. Anything that is left over is refunded to consumers. Millions of consumers are in line to get rebate checks, this year, if the law holds.
Carl June 27, 2012 at 04:30 PM
There is a Grand Canyon sized separation between mandating health insurance (with the penalty for non-compliance being a tax of only a couple hundred dollars) and FBI agents kicking in Rand Paul's door at 3 am and forcing him, at gun point I assume, to perform a cornea transplant. Pretending there isn't only makes you sound paranoid and delusional. The 1986 ER bill dictates that health care is a right. Should we do away with that too, or just the ACA that makes it affordable? If we do, you had better get your insurance information tattooed on your forehead, or a hospital would have no obligation to treat you.
--- June 27, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Question: If the forced purchase of health care is compared to the forced attainment of a driver's license and auto insurance for people who drive, (as goes the liberal argument), is this to say that health care as a right is forced on us all simply because we are alive? Health care is not a right. Neither is a driver's license or driving in general. A right, according to our Constitution, is bearing arms. Will our federal government, or even our State governments, force us to all own firearms? Or, better yet, give them to us for free? Bearing arms is a right. Health care is surely not.
--- June 27, 2012 at 04:39 PM
CarlW, I did some digging and found this regarding the 1986 Reagan National Healthcare Plan, focusing on Emergency Room care. http://www.rightspeak.net/2010/12/we-had-health-care-mandate-in.html I have not found the actual Bill as of yet. But I know it's out there somewhere.
AmyRuthBlue June 27, 2012 at 04:53 PM
very well said, CarlW.
Bill Hillman June 27, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Tattoo? http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Health-Care-IT/Medical-RFID-Tagging-Could-Save-Lives/
--- June 27, 2012 at 09:16 PM
On Thursday 28 Jun 2012 The SCOTUS is expected to make a ruling on ObamaCare. It will be a crucial moment in determining the course of our Nation. Simple.
--- June 28, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Oh, the hypocrisy. Washington Post contributor says that to shoot down ObamaCare would be against the teachings of Jesus. Yes. In the Washington Post. Read for yourselves. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/will-the-supreme-court-ruling-on-health-care-violate-jesus-teaching/2012/06/27/gJQAJhEu7V_blog.html From article: "Jesus taught his followers to have compassion for the sick, to be helpful including paying for health care for those who could not afford it." "It is not enough for me as a Christian, and a person of faith, to do this as an individual. It is my responsibility to call my society to be decent to the sick, and pay for their health care. It is a matter of moral accountability to my fellow citizens." She is failing, and reaching for straws. She clamors for individual Christianity, yet wishes to enforce the teachings of Jesus upon the masses, and says Jesus wants us to pay for other people's health care. *facepalm* Next.

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