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To the editor:
Rep. Chris Malone’s letter to the editor last week concerning “Obamacare” reminded me of the debate surrounding Medicare fifty years ago when I was a college student. Opponents deemed it a “Soviet-style model of healthcare,” “socialized medicine” and warned the nation of a “communist plot” to destroy our healthcare system.
Prior to Medicare, approximately 50 percent of America’s seniors did not have hospital insurance and more than a quarter of elderly citizens were estimated to have gone without medical care because they could not afford it.
While Medicare is not without its problems, it has dramatically improved access to health care, allowed seniors to live longer and healthier lives and has become one of the most popular government programs.
In my professional career as a pharmacist I have seen firsthand the consequences of untreated health conditions. Many of our current nursing home residents are there because of strokes resulting from untreated hypertension, blindness from untreated glaucoma, complications from untreated diabetes or amputations that could have been prevented by early diagnosis and treatment of circulatory disorders.
These people are debilitated not because they neglected to obtain adequate healthcare but because they simply could not afford to see a physician or pay for their medications.
Opposition to the Affordable Care Act has employed tactics far beyond the rhetoric we heard during the Medicare debates. Most of the negativity has been directed against President Obama as if he is personally forcing the entire nation into a scheme that would jeopardize the wellbeing of three hundred million citizens.
I suggest we all take a deep breath, pause for a moment and consider some real numbers and sound facts for a change.
At least 80 percent of Americans will notice no change at all. Approximately half of us get our health insurance through our employment. This includes spouses and dependent children of workers whose employers provide some level of health insurance coverage.
It also includes people who get insurance through the government under programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans’ Healthcare, and Tricare (health insurance for active duty military, retirees and their families). Many others purchase health insurance on their own in the open market.
Some employers have been hard at work devising schemes to limit employees’ hours in order to avoid providing coverage because they believe it would be too expensive. These decisions were made before the actual costs of coverage under the Affordable Care Law were published.
Many are finding the actual cost of coverage for their employees to be less than they are currently paying under existing policies.
Under Obamacare, the health insurance marketplace is designed for people who buy insurance on their own or don’t have any health insurance. The marketplace will provide several levels of coverage and many buyers can receive various levels of financial help depending on where their household income falls in relation to the current federal poverty level.
Consider the following excerpts from the article entitled” How the Health Care Law is Making a Difference for the People of North Carolina" from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
•Four million non-elderly North Carolinians have a pre-existing health condition that can no longer be used by insurance companies to deny them coverage;
•1.3 million North Carolinians who are currently uninsured are eligible to enroll in coverage in the marketplace;
•The monthly premium for basic health coverage in the marketplace for a 27-year-old North Carolinian who earns $25,000 a year will be $88;
•The monthly premium for basic coverage in the marketplace for a family of four earning $50,000 a year will be $74.
Let’s tone down the rhetoric and stop demonizing the Affordable Care Law.
Do your own research, get factual information and make your decisions about health insurance coverage based on reliable sources. A year or two from now we will most likely be wondering what all the fuss was about.