Goshen News, Goshen, IN

August 1, 2013

Affordable Care Act is better than ‘don’t-get-sick’ philosophy

— With the cost of healthcare in the U.S. double that of any other developed country, what have we gotten for our medical megabucks? Fifty million people uninsured, bankruptcies — sometimes even for those with health insurance, the sick routinely knocked off their health insurance, pre-existing conditions un-cared for and babies four times more likely to die than in other developed countries. Overall, our health outcomes are worse than in places that spend far less.

Our decades-long healthcare experiment driven by the highly vaunted “market” hasn’t produced a health system we can afford. The “market” DOES NOT WORK for healthcare. To illustrate: Ever shop around for an emergency room? How did it work out comparison-shopping ERs? Even if one could do that, good luck learning the price of anything.

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare,” is a first attempt at healthcare coverage the U.S. can actually afford. Anyone who says Obamacare is socialism doesn’t understand that the ACA is based on private insurance and private companies. The question is: “Can our privatized healthcare system deliver medical care the country can afford?”   

The Republicans in the House have voted 39 times to repeal Obamacare, so it’s obvious they don’t want Americans to have affordable healthcare, and what’s even worse, they’re going to try to gum up the delivery of the ACA. Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson memorably said in 2009: “The Republicans have a healthcare plan: DON’T GET SICK! But if you do … DIE QUICKLY.” Republicans would send Americans back to the land of bankruptcies, pre-existing conditions and paying for the 50 million without health insurance.

Everyone should read the March 4 Time magazine article, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us” at time.com/bitterpill. But first a disclaimer: Reading it might make you sick.

— Joann Smith