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Linda Bergthold Headshot

What I'm Thankful for: Health Care Reform

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Every year at Thanksgiving, my husband requires all of us to tell what we are thankful for. The kids sigh and groan, but in the end, it's usually a sweet exercise. This year I will wonk out everyone by recounting the five things I'm thankful for related to health reform (they will most definitely sigh and groan... )

1. I'm thankful that I can get preventive care now at no co-pay as part of my Medicare benefits. That includes flu and pneumonia shots, mammograms (ugh I hate getting them, but I know I need to), colonoscopies (which I hate even more, particularly the preparation), but also all kinds of screening for things that affect older people like glaucoma, diabetes, etc.

2. I'm thankful that my family members who are not yet 26, but have been uninsured, can now get coverage under their parents' plans. I am really thankful that my hairdresser's son, who has had cancer, can continue his treatments. Otherwise he would be uninsurable.

3. I'm thankful that my family is healthy, but that if they were not, they would still get the care they need. My family members are insured, but that doesn't mean they will always get the right care at the right time. Health reform has alerted all of us to the importance of improving quality of care, and most importantly the Affordable Care Act has funded many good projects to help doctors and hospitals improve the quality of what they do.

4. I'm thankful that my nieces and nephews, and ultimately my grandkids, will have guaranteed maternity and newborn care when they decide it's the right time to have children. Not all insurance plans have covered maternity care in the past, but now it's part of Essential Benefits in the Affordable Care Act.

5. I'm thankful that the many people who don't have insurance coverage will be finally able to get good affordable coverage -- at least by 2014. And for people who do have coverage, I am thankful that insurance companies will have to spend at least 80 percent of our premium dollars on actual medical care, starting next year!

That's a lot to be thankful for. I couldn't have said this last year when we were still wrangling over health reform. What I am most thankful for is that our country finally had the courage to try to solve a problem that had been put off for 50 years. Yes, it was an ugly debate at times, and we didn't all get what we wanted. But we tackled it, and we will continue to work on it for many years to come.

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