Last week, I was in the emergency room at a hospital near my home. What struck me was the number of people who were still without insurance. I even overheard a conversation about why they didn't think it was important to have insurance. Today, I want to breakdown some of the basic issues the Affordable Care Act (ACA) addresses, and why people should be insuring themselves and their family.
The importance of a healthcare act
Health care costs are rising faster than inflation. As a result, and for sustainability reasons, the government had to act on getting these numbers under control. To make matters worse, up to 50 million Americans lack health insurance. Why such a great number of uninsured and underinsured? It turns out some insurance companies had developed the bad habit of setting up unrealistic lifetime dollar limits or simply denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. But insurances were not the only culprits. Businesses played their part by failing to offer health insurance. Of course, they blamed it on the high premium insurance companies charged them, particularly when they had sick or injured employees. In the end, this left a lot of US taxpayers without health insurance.
How the Affordable Care Act addresses the above issues
The ACA eliminates "cover rescission," also known as "retroactive cancellation of insurance policy." In the past, insurance companies could retroactively cancel one's entire policy for a simple mistake on the initial sign-up application. Under the Affordable Health Care Act, rescission is illegal unless it is proven that the subscriber committed insurance fraud in the process
With the ACA, people can no longer be denied health insurance coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, gone are the days of lifetime limits on health care coverage.
The Affordable Care Act requires each state to offer health benefits on the so called "Exchange Marketplace." This creates an opportunity for a more dynamic and competitive market environment for Americans looking for the best insurance coverage and rates. The great thing about those marketplace exchanges is that businesses and individuals can shop online and compare health insurance attributes before making a final determination. You can even navigate the exchanges via the phone, the mail or in person at certain locations.
Why you need health insurance
This brings me back to the hospital visit I had last week, and my thoughts on the issue. I have been blessed to have had health insurance most of my life but a lot of people haven't been so lucky. In the emergency room, I struck up a conversation with a lady who didn't have access to health benefits until recently. She suffered from all sorts of cardiovascular related conditions though we were about the same age. Had she had access to health insurance as I did, chances are she would have been in better shape, health-wise, today -- it has been demonstrated that uninsured individuals have higher death rates than those who are insured.
Another benefit of having health insurance is protection against the unknown. Due to rising health care costs, it takes one serious health related incident to ruin an individual and their family financially. Major health events go well into the thousands of dollars. It is common to see medical bills in the tens of thousands of dollars or even in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Which average American can afford such bills? This is where insurance coverage comes in handy. You as a covered patient would only pay a relatively small portion of the bill while your insurance company would pick-up the larger portion.
My next post will be on Open Enrollment for the 2015 calendar year, for Individual and Family health plans.
For more information on the Affordable Care Act or any health related materials, check out United Health Care TV
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**Disclosure: This post was sponsored by UnitedHealthcare, however all the views and opinions are completely my own.