Prior to the Affordable Care Act being passed, our nation’s healthcare system was discriminatory to both lower and middle wage workers. The true cost to live exceeded the threshold for income to qualify for Medicaid; people that had to work lower and middle wage jobs made too much income to qualify; most employers for those jobs could not afford to pay health insurance premiums for them (even if they did cover a substantial portion, many of the employees could not afford the remainder of the premium). Compounding the issue of affordability, was the consistent upward trend of the actual cost of health care delivery that had been driving a consistent upward trend in healthcare insurance premiums.
The Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare as it is popularly called, is changing the healthcare industry in a positive way. The health insurance industry will now be subject to federal regulations which will assure that everyone is treated fairly and equally. Further, rates will be monitored to make sure that most of the premiums you pay will go towards providing health care and not insurance company profits and administrative expenses, such as multimillion dollar insurance company executive salaries. No longer will health insurance companies be able to charge exorbitant rates, deny or limit coverage, and pick and choose the healthiest while making life difficult for those with debilitating conditions.
ObamaCare will provide coverage to the 32 million Americans who are currently not covered. Medicaid will be expanded to include 17 million uninsured Americans who are falling between the crack of being able to afford insurance and being able to qualify for Medicaid. The majority of the remaining 16 million people who make between 100 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (that’s $30,000 to $96,000 for a family of four) will qualify for subsidies. Everyone who does not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare will be able to select a health insurance plan from the ObamaCare Insurance Exchange. This will enable everyone to select the health insurance plan which is best for them.
To raise communities from poor health, we must raise their level of health education which means having both the members actively engaged in the behaviors that will improve health outcomes and health plans must be locally engaged with a high level of frequency via on-the-ground outreach. Having members and providers working together will achieve the most positive results for everyone.
An overhaul of our nation’s health care system was long overdue as more and more people in the U.S. were slipping through the cracks, with 32 million folks not receiving coverage. With the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) more Americans will have access to health care as our nation and the health care industry provide coverage for all Americans.
Duncan is CEO of Trusted Health Plan (District of Columbia) Inc.