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Your Opinion: Protections needed in health care disaster

Your Opinion: Protections needed in health care disaster

May 19th, 2017 by Tony Smith, Jefferson City in Opinion

Dear Editor:

Should we pay a fee for services to receive fire or police protection? We could call this a policy for protection. No policy, no protection. I think few of us favor this type of protection from harm. Instead these protections are paid through public investment.

Consider healthcare where this is exactly the system we have. No other industrialized country with a modern system of government sells healthcare as a commodity. For example, citizens in Canada, Germany, France, and Japan have healthcare just like they have police and fire protection. Is this socialized medicine? If so, we have socialized fire and police protection.

Before Obamacare (the ACA) friends and family were denied a healthcare policy if they had a "pre-existing" condition. That condition could have begun at birth. We all know friends who have had children born with complications. This situation changed with the ACA. Our friends and family members were no longer denied the protection of healthcare because they could buy a policy to protect themselves.

The ACA is still selling healthcare but doesn't allow many of the previous restrictions that denied protection. Furthermore, the ACA required health insurance to include 10 basic services that protect friends and family. These guidelines extended to all health insurance policies in America. Eight out of 10 people get healthcare from their employer or Medicare. In the past employers could skimp on plans and offer limited coverage.

Essential Health Benefits (EHB's) mean we all get real healthcare protection. What good is a policy that doesn't offer help? EHB's include emergency room visits, outpatient visits, maternity benefits, a no-cost yearly evaluation, hospitalization, prescription drugs, mental health, and lab services. These are real protections from a health crisis.

Before the ACA protections, the major cause of bankruptcy in America was an unforeseen health emergency. Three years ago, I spent three hours in a Denver ER. The bill was $16,000. Fifteen years ago, I had a heart attack. The bill was $100,000. Many people are not able to absorb these kinds of economic assaults.

Politicians are now considering limiting and or removing the protections from a healthcare disaster. We all benefit from the restrictions placed on the health insurance industry. The costs for the ACA mostly came from the 1 percent who have taxable income over $250,000 a year. Their tax break puts the rest of us at risk from a healthcare disaster.

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