I am one of the 5 million Americans who have obtained health care under the Affordable Care Act. Although I was covered by Cobra for another year, I was happy to find health insurance with the same carrier (Care First) for about $700 per month less than I was paying for Cobra. It is not comparable care as I went from a PPO to an HMO, with a significantly higher deductible, but it is adequate and affordable. And, after the initial website glitches in the fall, it was relatively pain-free.
When I started my career in the early 1980s, many people stayed in jobs they loathed for fear of losing health insurance. Fear is never a boost to productivity. The ACA may give employees the freedom to leave jobs for which they are unsuited or unproductive, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The outcry against ACA has made sense on some levels and I certainly won't defend the sort of ad hoc way in which it was rolled out. As a communications strategist, the back pedaling and informational black hole of the early days was appalling.
But the ACA and its impact on Americans should be judged by how it is working today, not on how the early days of enrollment and messaging went. I can only speak about my family -- my 21-year-old daughter and myself -- and the fact that we are spending much less than we were on Cobra and with no clock ticking toward the end of coverage. We received no subsidies for the insurance we purchased through the marketplace, but I was able to compare a number of different plans before choosing one. And for those of us who choose to be self-employed, this provides a plethora of choices.
I enrolled in January for coverage that began February 1 and so far, so good. My daughter is covered as she attends a university in Philadelphia though was stunned by the initial sticker shock of prescriptions as we pay off the annual deductible. It's definitely not as comprehensive as an employer's group plan. But we are covered and some aspects of the ACA - including covering adult children up to age 26, no exclusions for pre-existing conditions, and ending lifetime limits on coverage -- should benefit most Americans.
I am among the 5 million who have obtained health coverage under the ACA, and am surely among the majority who are grateful for all of those in the Obama administration and Congress who fought hard to make this a reality. Kudos also to those champions including Bill and Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy who paved the way for the ACA. It is a shame that such important legislation is being used as a political tool by some. But at the end of the day, I stand proudly with the other 5 million Americans of all income levels who no longer live in fear of illnesses that could be catastrophic.
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