The emotional ride with Obamacare will not end soon. The raw feelings, especially among the opponents, are too deeply ingrained. The fears of losing whatever they think they are losing leaves them bitterly angry.
By BOB SIGMAN
Special to The Star
Ironically, this widespread resentment is over a relatively small segment of the population, as Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius pointed out during a recent visit to Kansas City.
The nation’s new health care insurance program covers the 15 percent of Americans who previously were uninsured. The other 85 percent of Americans will continue to obtain their coverage through their employer, Medicare, Medicaid or other ongoing group plans, the former governor of Kansas added.
Here is what is bothersome about the reaction to the new law: Why are so many of the 85 percent doggedly against the 15 percent having access to better health care?
It is because many have been convinced by a highly vocal opposition. Talk radio has been full of speculation about what is expected to happen. Anti-Obamacare commercials have saturated the airways. National organizations such as Americans for Prosperity have attempted to punch holes in the new plan.
Some of the criticism has a point. Congress wrote a very complex law that is far from perfect. Amendments are in order.
Advocates of The Patient and Affordable Care Act, or ACA as it is called, have not been as active. At least not until the few months leading up to the Oct. 1 launching of the online health insurance marketplaces.
Amid the clamor, I sought neutral ground. FactCheck.org was recommended. Many of the opponents, I find, do not like this website. I came away from it thinking the investigators were trying to analyze the claims fairly because they found fault on both sides. Without question the site offers a more objective view of the issues.
By now, millions of Americans are taking advantage of Obamacare. A few of the provisions:
• Young people, up to the age of 26, now have health insurance through their parents’ plan.
• Insurance companies can no longer turn away patients with pre-existing conditions.
• Companies with fewer than 50 employees are able to obtain tax credits if they offer coverage.
• Some lower- and middle-income families are eligible for subsidies to help them buy insurance.
Until the advent of Obamacare, many of the 15 percent of Americans who didn’t have coverage got their care at hospital emergency rooms. ER care is very costly medical treatment.
Who pays for that care? The other 85 percent do, experts say.
So, if I have this straight, the opponents of Obamacare are taking a position that takes money out of their pockets.
In Kansas, about 52 percent of the population is covered by their employers and an additional 29 percent is in other health plans, according to the Kansas Health Institute’s news service. In Johnson County about 10 to 11 percent of the population is uninsured.
As expected, there were glitches in the opening days at the Kansas marketplace website. It might have been better had Gov. Sam Brownback not turned down $31.5 million in federal money (our tax money) that would have helped set up the technological infrastructure for the health insurance marketplace in Kansas.
Despite multiple attempts to derail the ACA, it has survived and should be given a chance to work. The dividends could be a healthier nation.
Freelancer Bob Sigman, a former member of The Star’s editorial board, writes in this space once a month.