In all the fuss about health care reform, I’m afraid many people have lost – or never knew about – the many cost-effective, life-saving, economy-contributing measures in the Affordable Care Act. It will allow a lot of people to live, work and contribute to society. I know that is the case for my family.
My 11-year-old son has a number of special health care needs. His nearly four-year fight with childhood cancer, and his other and related conditions, have meant two things for him and our family before the Affordable Care Act: he would be uninsurable under any new plan for the rest of his life because of pre-existing conditions, and his existing private insurance through my husband’s work would expire before he ever graduated from high school as a result of reaching his lifetime maximum coverage. At that time, with his own insurance maxed out and with no ability to gain new insurance due to his pre-existing conditions, and with limited options for high-earning work due to his disabilities, my son would be totally dependent on tax-supported government health care and/or charity care through hospitals and doctors.
The Affordable Care Act does a lot of great things for kids, but for my son (and the community he lives in), it does something very specific. It assures my son that he will never meet a lifetime maximum for insurance coverage, and he will always be able to get private insurance despite his pre-existing conditions. Today, that means his dad and I are free to move about, change jobs, and change insurance coverage. We are free to contribute to society and pay for private insurance for our son – indefinitely. It means we don’t need to worry about the day when he will lose all coverage because of his high lifetime medical expenses. It does not mean that he can now have a handout. It means we can always contribute, we can always pay for his primary health insurance, and he will always have coverage.
Now, there are lots of wonderful, human, moral reasons why the Affordable Care Act is a good thing, and why things like eliminating pre-existing condition exclusions, eliminating annual and lifetime caps, covering preventive health care services, and covering adult children under their parents’ plans until age 26 provide good, solid human services. But it’s not just the right thing to do. All those measures are cost-effective, prevent worsening (and more expensive) disease, and allow Americans to contribute to their health coverage continuously. Not many things in this world are a “win-win,” but these measures of the Affordable Care Act certainly are “winners” for both families and the U.S. economy. Repealing these components of health care reform would be more than wrong – it would be foolish.