Deadline Now: Affordable Care Act

Deadline Now: Affordable Care Act

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- Obamacare -- is here. What does it really mean for you? How will your coverage change? What should we know about the Act?

Randy Oostra, President and CEO of ProMedica Health System, and R.J. Rajner, Vice President for Roemer Insurance, help clarify the Affordable Care Act.

Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of "Deadline Now."

When the Affordable Care Act was passed nearly four years ago, I went to see an elderly internist I know.

Then in his eighties, he was still practicing medicine. I asked him what he thought of the act.  He said, “Well, the opposition reminds me a lot of what happened when they were proposing Medicare and Medicaid back in the nineteen sixties.

Then, he told me, the medical establishment was dead set against both health care schemes. “Were you against Medicare and Medicaid?” I asked. Absolutely, he said. He told me he thought they would ruin the practice of medicine. “What do you think now?” I said.

The doctor said he couldn’t imagine practicing medicine without them. One era’s radical idea, in other words, tends to become standard operating procedure in less than a generation. 

Not always, naturally.

I don’t know anyone who, regardless of their politics, doesn’t think the Affordable Care Act will need some tweaking, or modification from time to time. It probably does now.

But the fact is this: The Affordable Care Act, or ACA, is here to stay -- at least for the foreseeable future. Congress passed it, the U.S. Supreme Court said it was constitutional, and the voters decisively reelected the President behind the act last year.

So it would seem to make the most sense for all of us to learn all we can about it; give it a try, and see what works for you.

Now, I wouldn’t try to do this all on my own. There are various navigators that can help you out; your insurance agent may be able to do so as well. However, be careful you aren’t being taken by a scam artist; one elderly lady I know was told she had to give money to someone posing as an expert to ensure that Medicaid was saved.

Fortunately, she said no.  There is a lesson there; talk to someone reputable before committing to anything. Know the rules, and what you can and can’t do and what is and isn’t covered.

And keep an open mind.  I’ve spoken to enough audiences to know that there is vast confusion and ignorance still about all this. 

What I do know, however, is that people will no longer be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions. Parents will be able to keep their children on their insurance till they are 26.

And a year from now, millions will have some form of health insurance who have none today. 

If you have ever had to go to an emergency room and see all the people there because they lack any other form of primary care, you likely think that part of it is bound to be a good thing. 

So stay tuned.