Focusing on the bigger picture

Added October 7th, 2013 by Judy Putnam | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Judy Putnam

With all the attention paid to the launch of the Health Insurance Marketplace on Oct. 1, it’s easy for other benefits of the Affordable Care Act to get lost in the shuffle.

My colleague, Senior Policy Analyst Jan Hudson, highlighted them in a viewpoint published Sunday in the Lansing State Journal.

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, will indeed help the uninsured. Many of them work hard for low wages and no benefits. Expanding Medicaid and offering subsidies based on income are clearly the right things to do.

But the law also makes life more certain for all. No longer will the fear of an illness or accident hang over our financial lives.

As Jan points out, Jan. 1 will bring new protections for adults. Many of the protections were already extended to children in 2010. No longer will a brain tumor or breast cancer diagnosis be able to trigger a financial crisis. Our loved ones will be able to focus on getting better rather than fending off economic ruin. The Jan. 1 protections include:

  • Insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage or charge someone more because of a pre-existing condition.
  • Insurers will no longer be able to charge women more than men for the same coverage.
  • Insurers will not be able to set lifetime or annual limits on the amount they will pay for care.
  • Consumers will be protected from having their coverage canceled when they get sick and from unlimited out-of-pocket costs.

“These protections ensure that those diagnosed with a chronic or serious disease do not have to fear losing their coverage or exceeding a limit. With the out-of-pocket spending limits, the law provides economic security to families. One accident or illness will no longer mean bankruptcy,’’ Jan wrote.

Let’s keep in mind the benefits. Many of us already know the security of keeping young adults on parents insurance until age 26 as they try to launch a career in uncertain times, thanks  to another Affordable Care Act provision.

The Affordable Care Act has many aspects but one goal. There may be bumps and kinks with implementation but the bigger picture is a beautiful one – making affordable care widely available.

— Judy Putnam

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