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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.

 

Michael Graupner June 28, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Said like a true communist
Franklin Wong June 28, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Yes, I do think we are better as a society if we all have access to health care. Yes, I do think discrimination as policy is wrong. Yes, I think we can do better as a government and as a nation. That makes me a communist.
Michael Graupner June 28, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Clearly, you are a communist because you want to steal from citizens who are productive and work to make this country great in order to redistribute their income to societal leaches and pariahs. If you get beyond your socialist daydreaming, you might realize that America is slowly rebelling against those who take our liberties and willfully undermine our country.God forbid, but I think a civil war is not far away, and I think it will be a hot one.
Cardiac Companion June 28, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Ayn Rand is turning over in her grave right now!
Franklin Wong June 29, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Said like a true Facist.
Amo Probus June 29, 2012 at 10:40 AM
Read my lips, no new taxes!
Noah Fence June 29, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Don't worry gang, Pres. Romney will put an end to all of this nonsense next year.
Amo Probus June 29, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Hey, Franklin may be onto something here. Let's let him pay our bills while we sit on the beach...whadda ya say Franklin are you up to it?
Concerned Parent June 29, 2012 at 07:04 PM
You cannot blame Americans who are firm believers in their Freedom of Choice. In essence, it's no different than a woman's right to choose. You cannot deny that Americans' liberties were dealt a blow by the SCOTUS decision regarding the individual mandate. Congress was able to phrase the law in a backhanded manner to make that lose of choice appear as a tax. Whether you agree or disagree, its our freedoms that give us that ability. Using money as a justification to compromising our liberties is pretty sad. Yesterday's decision made our country no longer a free nation. To exist here, you need to pay or be fined.
Elyse June 29, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Whatever healthcare the average U.S. citizen ends up with, so should it pass to every single Federal employee. Yes, Congress, etc. should be in the same boat as the rest of us. No more free healthcare off the taxpayers back. Ditto with CEOs. Why should people who make seven figure incomes get free healthcare? Meanwhile, the low income folk go to work with strep throat because they can't afford to take a day off. Having done the COBRA/buy your own insurance route once, I can say it's expensive, and once you have a pre-existing condition, you're basically screwed on buying your own. I got most coverage but they would not cover ANYTHING connected to Lyme Disease. Plus it cost nearly twice as much, which is tough to pay when you're on unemployment. In a perfect world, if EVERYBODY paid into health insurance, then rates should go down and more people would be healthy, as they wouldn't say "oh, I can ignore that lump; I can't afford to see a doctor."
Franklin Wong June 29, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Nope. I am not up to that vary difficult task. I do not possess enough wisdom or fortitude needed for that kind of job. I do have opinions which are different from some other writers here. For this some writers must try to i categorize you right, left, liberal, conservative. Rather than argue their position on merits, some here have called me boo hoo liberal, communist, socialist. I personally find the discourse venomous. There is an underlying message of hate and intolerance.
Amo Probus June 29, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Government employees will not give up heri superior health care perqs. We have already seen Obama's health care act provisions that EXEMPT certain governement workers. Had to do it to ensure passage...so you are all screwed once again by the royal family
Amo Probus June 29, 2012 at 11:29 PM
FW So why the devil would you support this government that is busy drilling holes in the middle and the rowing end of this boat?
Amo Probus June 30, 2012 at 02:06 AM
We can no longer afford the taxes needed to support government programs. So why support the programs? It really boils down to affordability.
Amo Probus June 30, 2012 at 10:47 AM
I work my tail off to provide health care for my family...why should the government take their health care funds to give it to someone who does not provide for his own?
the man June 30, 2012 at 02:41 PM
As a further hit on seniors the new law says that when they sell thier houses to escape CT and its high tax burden ,Seniors will pay 3.8% tax on the selling price to pay for health care. This further locks seniors into paying for the many who continue to get "FREE STUFF" at the expense of those who have taken care of themselves for most of their lives..
the man June 30, 2012 at 10:41 PM
It imposes a capital gains tax on all such transactions. See the WSJ today. It hits mostly seniors who have gains in their homes. It reduces the amount you will receive if you sell your house for more than you paid which is the case for most seniors who have been in town for over 10 + years. It is far reaching and this is just the tip of the Titanic Iceberg whcih like Obamacare is mostly hidden from the average Joe.
Amo Probus July 01, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Don't feel badly FW...you are just one of millions that supported the ACA without knowing all of the facts....including many in congress that voted for it as sheep paying homage to Pelosi and Reed and Obama. It is the largest tax increase in history enacted during the second worse depression in a 100 years. We're screwed unless its overturned by a new President/Congress.
the man July 01, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Correction-- The 3.8% is on people who earn over 200,000 BUT that is on GROSS income so more than likly when you sell your house you will hit the magic number.
Amo Probus July 01, 2012 at 09:58 AM
FW Bottom line, what makes you think you are entitled to use someone else's money to pay for your medical care? What makes you think its appropriate for government cronies to benefit with an enriched plan simply because they used the coercive powers of taxation to marginally benefit unwashed masses that keep them in power?
MAC July 01, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Mr. Wong, you are missing the forest for the individual trees you are looking at. Such as, re: "You pay zero tax on the first $500,000 of gain from sale of primary residence." That is SO reassuring, especially since the economy and RE market are in the CRAPPER (and will be as long as Obama is in the WH), so ANY "gain" on home sales in most areas of the U.S. is a 'pipe dream'!! The main issue, which you are seemingly blind to, is that OBAMATAX is a naked grab for POWER over "We the People"!!! A government which ^^ controls ^^ your health care "controls" your total life, which is exactly what the DEM party intended with this abominable 2,700 page law, which they passed UNREAD, in a dastardly fashion!! You are extremely gullible if you believe the purpose of OBAMACARE was to do good, or out of kindness. The purpose was the exact opposite and truly EVIL!!! The purpose was to gain such control over people, including the "middle class" and "working poor" that they would never again consider voting for anyone other than Democrats and other socialists!!
canaan guy July 02, 2012 at 04:13 AM
January 20, 2013............ Obamas Last Day.
SLP July 03, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Completely agree with you about rising premium costs. But the rub with the Insurance companies claims are that the Affordable Healtchare Act hasn't even been enacted. So their reasons are completely fabricated. I'm also certain that the plan underwent many revisions that made it as unwieldy as we see it today. It's my understanding that my taxes will go up .9% to support this. As far as I'm concerned it's money that I have no problem seeing go towards it. Most Americans will DIRECTLY benefit from it.
MAC July 11, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Franklin, Obamacare is a "power grab" not specifically because of the "tax issues" as much as that it ^^takes over^^ the health care system, rather than to truly make health care more affordable and accessible. Obama frankly said in 2007 "But I don't think we're going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There's going to be potentially some transition process." He has elsewhere said his preference is for "single-payer," in which the government bureaucracies (hundreds of new ones are created by Obamacare, such as IPAB, the rationing board) take over and insurance companies are put out of business. That is Obama's preference, having government control as much as possible of people's lives, because then we are DEPENDENT upon government, and his party gets elected every time. Republicans of PRINCIPLE, admittedly not all of them by any means, want the PEOPLE to retain their FREEDOMS!
Amo Probus July 11, 2012 at 12:56 PM
So, the strategy is to dismantle the best medical system in the world, reknowned for its innovation, and replace it with an unfunded system run by government bureaucrats who brought us a bankrupt Social Security system, a bankrupt Medicare system a bankrupt prescription drug system, a 16 trillion dollar debt, broken borders, several unnecessary wars, a declining educational system, a moribund real estate market (thanks Dodd/Frank) and a dismal balance of trade.... Good Plan if you're a sucker
MAC July 11, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Franklin, you make some good points about the unfairness of an employer based health coverage system in which those not covered don't get the same tax advantages or group rates. But, did you know that it was GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE with the free market that brought about this unfairness?!! It came about because of government "wage/price controls" during World War II. Because employers were not allowed to pay 'competitive' wages, they competed for the best employees by offering paid health care and other benefits. If government would address these basic issues, and break down the barriers against market competition over state lines, which they put there, then a much better, consumer determined and less costly system would be created. Further, people should NOT look at routine predictable medical expenses, such as physicals, vaccinations etc. as something that should be either INSURED or PROVIDED by the government!! The concept of "insurance" means that people protect THEMSELVES by grouping together to pay premiums in case of UNKNOWN risks! Thus, the concept of medical insurance has become grossly abused or at least distorted. It is totally preposterous and wrong, for instance, to mandate that insurance companies charge the same rates for men and women on life insurance as well as health care, when the RISKS are different! If you are a safe driver, do you want to pay the same rates for auto insurance as a reckless one, who drinks??
MAC July 11, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Here are some other facts you probably were not aware of: In addition to the 2,700 pages in OBAMATAX, which most DEMS in congress did not "read before they voted for it"!!!--there are already some 13,000 additional pages of REGULATIONS over your health care choices, which is just a beginning!! ..."Obamacare will increase premiums by 19-30 percent ..."Some low-income individuals would benefit from Obamacare’s subsidies; for those individuals, the impact of these premium increases would be blunted. But if premium costs go up at a rate faster than people expect, taxpayers will be on the hook for billions upon billions of extra subsidies."... "Obamacare’s biggest change to the insurance market: its requirement that insurers take on all comers irrespective of pre-existing conditions, a.k.a., 'guaranteed issue.'... "We cannot incorporate the effects of the ban on pre-existing conditions exclusions. This ban will cause a rise in premiums as insurers are forced to cover conditions that they had previously excluded. In addition, there are new premium taxes on insurers that will raise premium rates…Overall, we cannot predict the net impacts of these factors on premiums without more analysis." http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2012/03/22/how-obamacare-dramatically-increases-the-cost-of-insurance-for-young-workers/
Franklin Wong July 12, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Government interference as you call it is necessary and is at it's essence as to what defines a nation. The lack of government interference is more dangerous than an excess of government interference. When free markets as well as governments are left unchecked the results more often than not have proven disastrous. When 250 million plus citizens have health insurance and some number between 10 and 50 million would desire health insurance in order to receive some standard of health care, I would think that the government has an obligation to interfere and step in. Government oversight of the health of it's citizens is appropriate legally, constitutionally and morally. By the way as to the drunk driver. The convicted drunk driver and I emphasize convicted, is insured at relatively low rates and cannot be denied insurance. The relatively low rates paid by the drunk is in part paid for through the uninsured driver premium and a pool of premiums charged to all insured. The logic of this is that driving unlike health is considered essential to the individual and denies that that person of their rights.
Franklin Wong July 14, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Where I hope we can all find agreement. In the US, health care costs are rising at a pace that is much faster than our ability to pay for it and this is neither sustainable or desirable. Health insurance, whether public or private, is a method of financing and paying for health care. Health insurance costs rise in lock step with the actual cost of care. Keeping health care as it is currently certainly can not be acceptable. The Affordable Care Act is far from perfect. I will be first in line to repeal when a plausible plan which addresses the excessive rises in cost, the growing numbers of uninsured and covers pre-existing conditions is in place. The discussion for health care reform has been going on for over 100 years. If for nothing else, Obamacare gives us the opportunity to make health care reform happen.
Franklin Wong July 14, 2012 at 01:26 PM
This is an article worthy of note. http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/how-to-replace-obamacare The draws attention to the flaws in pre-Obama care heath system as well as flaws in Obamacare. The article advocates for the repeal of Obamacare but most importantly it pushes for replacing Obamacare and the unsustainable health care system pre-Obamacare. Repeal AND Replace.

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