Get on board with the Affordable Care Act

It's about time

It’s about time

Ok. This has been on my mind since Monday so I thought I should blog it out and maybe I can sleep for 20 minutes more (my insomnia sometimes comes from keeping stuff on my chest for too long).

The Affordable Care Act is more monumental than I originally thought. It’s more than just health care coverage for those who cannot afford it. It’s also about redefining patients rights. From what I gather, the public will have more say so over what they need instead of leaving our health in the hands of greedy insurance freaks. Anton Gunn, Director of the Office of External Affairs for the U.S. HHS (and a cutie patootie) explained some of the ACA in five very simple points.

  1. Expands access to buy health insurance coverage.
  2. Makes health coverage more affordable.
  3. Protects patients as consumers when they purchase insurance.
  4. Improves the quality of insurance.
  5. (My fave) Focuses on prevention and public health

Some of the better parts of the law are in the details. For example, having access to your medical records on line. This program, called the Blue Button program, will help patients keep up with their own health history and be able to switch providers with ease. I don’t have to guess the date of my last surgery. My new doctor will be able to see what medications I’ve tried before prescribing a new one. Now the concern I have right away is the security of this program. If you have a disease or are undergoing some sort of treatment that you wish to keep to yourself, having your medical records so accessible can be worrisome. It’s also very Big Brother like in my opinion to know that the government has access to your medical files (but then again they probably already do).

I am pleased with the screenings that are now covered under the law as well. I knew about some of them before but not all. I am all about prevention. As a female, I know how many times we are required to be poked, groped, sampled, and kneaded just for one check up. It’s annoying as hell but imperative. Look at all the lives that will be saved because people are being screened at the appropriate times.  Not to mention the money saved. I know some conservatives had an issue with the cost to taxpayers for this law over time but guess what. We’ve been paying out the wahzoo already!!!!  A colon cancer screening for someone who is uninsured may cost $200 but that’s a bargain compared to the $200,000 cost of surgery and treatment. Doesn’t it cost less to screen a person and remove the polyps before they become cancerous or find the lump and remove it before the cancer cells spread to the lymph nodes?  It all makes so much sense and if you’re a true tightwad you will see how much of a relief this will be.  Or maybe the conservatives want to see that patient suffer and possibly die to keep their doctor friends rich. Excuse me for slipping into some conspiracy theory sh– there.

So what puts gray hair into my beautiful head is the African-American part. I can’t speak about other races firsthand but my people are going to need some work to get into this. First of all, we’re busy people. We’ve got a lot to do between supporting the first president who looks like us, trying to survive one government  financial crisis after another, feeding our families, securing homes, climbing out of debt and maintaining good health. It’s gonna take some work trying to get my folks settled down long enough to digest all this information.

Next, is the health part. Health is not an exciting topic (something I know all too well as a health writer. Some days I swear I would have been better off writing about celebrity bullshit). When you add legal terms and a few Senator names people tune all the way out. One of the editors I’m pitching this story to asked me “how can we make this sexy?” I have no freaking clue. Also, my people have a sorta natural mistrust of the government.  It’s hard to sell a product to some of us that have a government seal on it. Given our history, I can see why.

Now another concern of mine is one that you may not like me for but it’s the truth in my eyes. I would hate to see this law become some sort of crutch for people to not strive for more. Think about it. If I’m getting free health care, free food at school for my children, and my housing and groceries supplemented why should I try to do better. Part of the push for this law was that the health care provided must be “quality”.  I don’t know what rubric the Feds will use to measure quality but if it’s enough to keep me alive and I am dirt poor and uneducated, that ,may be quality enough for me. I don’t want people (anybody not just African-Americans) to think that this is a permanent solution. If you work in a place where no health insurance is provided, between jobs, or disabled and can’t work this is absolutely great. But if you can improve, you should. The government isn’t going to pay for the gold package of health care and they shouldn’t. Not with my tax money. They should provide the basics though and that is fine by me. But I fear that folks will get comfortable with basic.

Lastly, I am concerned with health behaviors. I have a question that I feel probably won’t be answered: what will the government do to help change the health behaviors of the public?  Yes I know they are beefing up the smoking cessation stuff. It’s a waste of money and a crying shame to pay for a hospital visit for a diabetic who ate the wrong foods and failed to keep their blood sugar in check just to see them turn right back around and eat crap all over again.  What will the government do to educate that person about their condition? What kind of follow up will be in place to help that person manage their glucose levels? If you say that’s not the government’s responsibility, I disagree. Health insurance is an investment. If you take my tax money and invest it in someone’s health, I expect you to protect that investment so that I don’t have to shell out more dollars later on for someone who doesn’t value their life enough to preserve it. That’s my friends is going to be a very tough nut to crack.

That’s all I have to say about it for now. Comment all you like about it and I’ll be happy to read what you think.

Thanks for reading!!

PS Wish list item: a bound, hard copy of the ACA. It’s cool to see it on line but it’s over 1,000 pages long and at some point my poor eyes need a break.  It would be great to have on hand for reference sake.  I gotta fish around and see if I can get one.

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