We all fear that phone call. A medical report turns out the wrong way and life may never be the same. When that call arrives we all have the same needs: A doctor who cares, a place to go for treatment and the finances to afford what’s needed. Starting on January 20th, some of my patients will join the 20 million whose lifeline to those fundamental needs becomes jeopardized.
One of my patients facing this threat lost his job and health insurance during the 2008 recession. Because he’s a diabetic and has a special needs son, no insurance company would sell his family a policy. Why would they? Diabetics and others with serious illnesses pose high risks for future health expenses. Insurance companies make money by avoiding such risk. After exhausting all the options, he sweated out 18 months with no coverage. Finally, the roll-out of the California Exchange, funded by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), allowed him to buy an Anthem Blue Cross policy for his family.
Do we really want millions of our fellow Americans to relive those nightmares? We all benefit from the ACA’s fundamental commitment: That everyone deserves access to healthcare regardless of their ability to pay. The policies guided by this principle moved us toward the achievement of universal coverage without changing the existing care of the majority of working families with employer based plans nor those with self-funded coverage.