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Letter: The truth’s nuances

I’d like to address point raised by a recent letter with respect to Obamacare. The writer states that “millions of Americans are losing their health care coverage because of Obama.” I suppose if you are a regular inhabitant of the right-wing echo chamber such a claim is “common knowledge.” However, the truth is a bit more nuanced.

People who rely on individual health care policies (i.e. people not covered by their employer, Medicare, or Medicaid) represent about 9 percent of the insured population. The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) requires insurance companies to meet a set of minimal coverage requirements including no exclusion for pre-existing conditions or lifetime caps. This in effect eliminates “junk” policies that some people obtain (because it’s all they can afford) that have enormous deductibles while providing minimal coverage. Other people receiving cancellation notices found they could actually find better insurance through the exchanges, and with subsidies, at a lower cost. That leaves a portion of that 9 percent that were facing higher premiums for policies. Incidentally, people have routinely received health insurance cancellation notices, rate increases, and coverage changes long before Obamacare was even a gleam in anyone’s eye.

So the hysteria of millions of people losing their health insurance is greatly overblown. But the key fact the writer fails to mention relates to all the people who did not have health insurance at all who are now getting it because of the Affordable Care Act. The number is currently 2.1 million and rising. If one adds those receiving health insurance via the Medicaid expansion and young people who can remain on their parent’s policy to age 26, the number approaches 10 million. Think of how many more would benefit if red state governors like Rick Perry of Texas (which has the largest number of uninsured residents in the country) implemented the Medicare expansion in his state.

It would be helpful if those who oppose the law would come up with constructive ways to make it better rather than to just take the easy way out and demand its repeal while offering nothing as a replacement.



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