I’ve already talked on this blog about how the Affordable Care Act affected my life. I don’t, however, think many people realize how it impacts them or their loved ones (especially those in opposition towards it). While there is little we can do at this point, regardless of tomorrow’s outcome you can still let your elected representatives know how the ACA has affected you (if the Supreme Court rules to uphold the ACA, even parts of it, Congressional Republicans have vowed to repeal it).
The nonprofit I work for has kept our eyes on how overturning this could hurt Americans, with an emphasis on children. Through that research I’ve compiled this list of what will happen if the ACA is overturned tomorrow:
A return of pre-existing coverage exclusions for children and adults
Under the ACA, children could not be denied healthcare coverage due to pre-existing conditions, some of which were developed before they even took their first breath on earth. This is absolutely cruel and gives the families of these children, who are sick by no fault of their own, no protection if extensive care is needed.
Adults are also subject to this too. As I saw first hand, moving insurance companies with being diagnosed with something under one does not mean the second one will cover your condition. Odds are they won’t. Leaving you in hundreds or thousands of dollars in medical debt.
A reduction in coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program
Overturning the law puts at risk federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (also known as CHIP) that was extended through Sept. 30, 2015 to provide states with additional funding to ensure children have access to this program. This puts into risk the coverage of the 8 million children who get their health coverage through CHIP.
An end to the pediatric benefit package that includes oral and vision coverage for all children
The ACA requires coverage of not only basic pediatric services under the new health plans, but also oral and vision needs starting in 2014. Many health plans do not provide coverage for needed child health services, and 12 percent of children have not had a doctor’s visit in the last year. One in four children has untreated tooth decay, which is now the most chronic illness among children. Good oral health must be started early and doing so can lead to the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It also is cost effective for people to have access to dental care, as last year nearly 1 million people went to Emergency Rooms for dental problems that were easily preventable with regular annual exams. Forgoing vision care treatment can also be costly in the long run, as a child’s eyes can deteriorate without corrective lenses. They can also see long-term medical issues, such as headaches, glaucoma, etc.
An end of the effort to improve quality care for children
The law develops children’s quality priorities and promotes children’s quality measurements and reporting to improve care. A recent study found that children receive recommended care less than half of the time.
A denial of coverage to families without employer-based care
The law provides health insurance choices through state-based health insurance exchanges to families without job-based coverage and provides tax credits to those who can’t afford it. Expanding insurance to all children will enable them to access needed care, which is proven to enhance their development and learning, laying the foundation for a healthy life. Children who are uninsured have decreased access to well-child care, immunizations, basic dental services, and prescription medication. Overturning the law could lead to lifetime health burdens to children denied coverage. As I well know not all employers have to supply (or are able to supply) health coverage to their employees, leaving them the burden to find very expensive private insurance, which is often not a feasible option. Those who do not have employer-based care, are often in part-time or lower income jobs, making it very difficult to afford their own private healthcare.
A return of lifetime caps on coverage
The law ends all lifetime limits on how much insurance companies cover if beneficiaries get sick, and bans insurance companies from denying coverage when they get sick. The ACA also restricts the use of annual limits in all new plans, and existing employer plans this year, until 2012 when all annual limits for these plans are prohibited. Two-thirds of middle class families with access to employer-based coverage said their child remained uninsured because they could not afford the health plan. Overturning the law will raise health care costs for families and lead to more uninsured children. You shouldn’t be cut off from your insurance coverage at a time when you need it the most.
An end to the extension coverage up to the age of 26
The law allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plan until age 26. Millions of young adults continue to have coverage as a result of this law (something from which I can relate to first hand). Overturning it could lead to insurance companies dropping those young adults as soon as they can, leaving millions of them uninsured just because they have been deemed “too old” for their parents to cover them (even if their parents have no objections to doing so).
An end to investments in women’s health
The ACA prohibits insurers from charging women substantially more than men (women pay $1 billion more each year in individual health insurance costs even though they tend to take better care of their health than men) and requires insurers to offer preventative services—including contraception (hallelujah!)—at no additional cost.
An end on discounts for seniors on brand-name drugs
Pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to provide a 50 percent discount on prescriptions filled in the Medicare Part D coverage gap. Seniors have already saved $3.5 billion on prescription drug costs thanks to the Affordable Care Act provision.
An end to temporary coverage for the sickest Americans
The law established temporary national high-risk pools that provide health coverage to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions who cannot find insurance on the individual market (such as people with diabetes, cancer, HIV, cardiovascular disease, etc.). In 2014, they will be able to enroll in insurance through the exchanged. Over 67,000 individuals have already benefited from the program.
This list isn’t even all of the benefits we’ve seen (and will see) under the ACA nor does it provide the comprehensive details from each of the items listed here. Bottom line, the ACA helps save lives. Your life. The lives of your brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, co-workers, etc.
We make laws for the betterment of mankind all the time, laws that require you to have insurance to operate a vehicle, laws that require you to wear a seat-belt or a helmet, laws that ban texting while driving, laws that make it illegal to drink alcohol until 21 or smoke until 18, etc.. We pay into Medicare and Social Security with every pay check, even if we don’t plan on using those services. We have mayors banning large drinks to promote healthy citizens.
If our laws are made to help people and make lives better than the ACA should be a no brainer. It has already helped millions of people and when all of the provisions are able to take affect it will help millions more. How can you turn your nose up to that?
I will be out at the Supreme Court bright and early tomorrow with my colleagues, and what I expect will be hundreds of others, to show our support for the ACA. Regardless of tomorrow’s outcome (and I honestly don’t know what that outcome will be) I can assure you that this isn’t the end of the fight. If it is upheld, Congressional Republicans have vowed to repeal it. If it is overturned, advocates, like myself, will push Congress to adopt a new version of it. The battle is only beginning.