When Barack Obama campaigned to become President, tops on his ambitious agenda of things he would change was healthcare. His thought process was easy to follow, that being that far too many Americans were going through their daily lives without the security of healthcare. With that, and his subsequent election, Obama set out to create what some have termed “Obamacare”, a system where every American will have health care in some form or the other. Debate raged on through both the House and Senate, but in the end the Democratic majority was able to rule the day and the President got his way.
Now September 23, 2010 arrives on the calendar and certain aspects of the President’s healthcare plan go into effect, starting today. As we examine each, you can tell that the parts that go on the books today could be very important for the vast majority of Americans and could certainly lead them to better help. The debate though will continue on regarding the long term effects of this plan. There are many, mostly Republicans but some Democrats as well, that deem this plan too costly and one that will bankrupt America in the end. With that said, let’s look at key points that become law today.
First off, Insurance companies will now be out of the business of terminating patient coverage, unless of course the patient has committed a fraudulent act of some sort. This maybe one of the most important aspects of the new healthcare system. Many people have felt the horror of having a life altering illness or a long term condition that they would have a hard time paying for without insurance. Back when though, Insurance companies would seemingly invent clauses to use that would give them the right to terminate insurance coverage for some arcane reasons. No longer will this be the case. If you have coverage, you keep coverage!
How about if your a college student just starting out? It is tough going away to college on your own, being responsible for your own cooking, cleaning, and assorted tasks, all while having to carry an 18 credit course load. Heaven help you if during a pickup basketball game down at State U you break an ankle. Previously, your insurance coverage that had you on your parents policy was no more and you face losing a year of school because you could not afford to pay both medical costs and schooling. This does not have to be the case now because parents are now permitted to carry a child till 26 if need be.
Insurance companies will also no longer be able to stop you from getting coverage simply because your child brings to the table a pre-existing condition. This was certainly an issue when a parent would say change jobs and would need to re-enroll in coverage that was carried by their new employer. In the past, Insurance companies could look and see that little Johnny has asthma and say, “Umm he has a problem already, no thanks”. Guess what, as of today your going to care for little Johnny regardless of what he has!
Another sad reality that was taking place in this country was the fact that many people were or are dying of cancer that they may not have had to pass away from. There is plenty of evidence out there to support the fact that people who detect certain types of cancer early, such as breast or colon cancer, can and do survive to live long, happy lives if it is caught in an early stage. However, many of these same people never knew they had it until it was too late because they did not get screened for it. Why didn’t they? Due to the fact that the procedures were too costly and they could not pay for it.
Now with the new Obama plan, a customer cannot be charged for these procedures which are deemed to be preventive services. This is a very important step in the President’s plan, but one that is not without some controversy, simply because insurers want to know who is going to be picking up the tab for these “free” tests. It does take technicians and doctors to read these, and that costs money. This is why some politicians worry about it bleeding our finances dry.
Finally, the Obamacare package will also put to rest the “cap” systems which use to be in place where an insurance company could apply a ceiling on the amount of benefits that a patient could receive over a lifetime. To this we should say “yahoo”. What could be more straining on a person than to be saddled with a medical condition for most of their life, or have their life altered by something like a car accident at an early age? It was not their choice to be stricken with a condition, but yet here was a company saying, “Oh we value your life at say, 500,000 dollars? This ludicrous nonsense will now be removed from the Insurance companies list of tools to get out of paying for people’s conditions.
There are a few other things as well, but the ones listed above are the most important of the changes that go into effect today. You can see how this is great for the American public, or at least those that had suffered with no coverage. However you can also wonder what this will mean for you down the road. It may no longer be profitable for Insurance companies to be in business, so what happens if they pull in their shingle and call it a day? Will the government take over and become central insurance? Or how about ten or twenty years down the road. Will taxes be increased to fund these initiatives? All of these are important questions to be answered, but we will have to wait and see what happens down the road.