Yesterday morning I was half awake (my usual condition within ½ hour of waking – I’m definitely not a morning person) having my first cup of coffee and getting my usual morning dose of CNN. One of their capital hill correspondents was interviewing Ted Cruz – whoa, wait a minute, did he just say what I thought I heard him say?!! I was suddenly wide awake with my mouth agape. Cruz had just been asked, now that your wife has taken an unpaid leave of absence from her job at Goldman Sachs job to help in your campaign, what are you going to do about health insurance since you have been on your wife’s insurance plan? Cruz’s answer – he was going to shop for insurance on the Federal Exchange. Say what?!!
Isn’t this the same guy how filibustered for 21 hours on the Senate floor in favor of de-funding the Affordable Care Act with a rambling monologue which included an animated reading from Dr. Seuss? Wasn’t he then very instrumental in encouraging the House Republicans to shut down the government for two weeks over the same cause? And now he is signing up for Obamacare?!! Cruz went on to explain that one of the good things about the Affordable Care Act (Wait did he actually say something good about Obamacare?) is that congressmen can sign up for coverage just like anyone else without any special privileges. To steal the punch line of old Southern joke, “I don’t think I would have told that!”.
Now Ted Cruz and his wife could probably afford any kind of insurance they would like, but the Ted is showing good financial sense – Obamacare is a very good value even for someone in Ted’s tax bracket who doesn’t qualify for government subsidies. And Cruz is not alone because, despite his best efforts, people by the millions have signed up for insurance coverage with the state and federal insurance exchanges.
Despite all of the inflammatory retinoic spewed out by Republican politicians, the Affordable Care Act has been big success. Here are some of the latest Affordable Health Care statistics as Obamacare celebrates its fifth anniversary:
- 7 million consumers now have insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace as of Feb. 22 beating the HHS goal of 9.1 million for 2015.
- From 2010 through 2015, 5.7 million young adults (aged 19-25) stayed on a parent’s plan until age 26.
- 8 million additional people were able to enroll in Medicaid or CHIP since Oct 2013 in states that expanded Medicaid.
- The total percent of uninsured adults in the US from has been reduced from 18% to 12.9% and this percentage is expected to drop further every year.
- No longer is anyone at risk being turned down for any kind of insurance for pre-existing conditions.
- No one has a lifetime limit on their health coverage.
- All insurance now covers preventative measures which can detect serious medical conditions when they are easier and cheaper to treat.
- Not one Federal Death Panel has been set up.
A sign of Obamacare’s success can be illustrated in a recent change in the rhetoric of Republican politicians. Before we heard only “Repeal Obamacare”. Now we are hearing more of “Repeal and replace Obamacare”. Reality is starting to sink in; the Republicans cannot afford to snatch coverage away from over 16 million Americans and again subject many more millions to life time limits on insurance coverage and rejections because of preexisting conditions. That’s not really political feasible.
However, the Republicans chanting “Repeal and Replace” have yet to reveal the first plan which they will propose to replace the Affordable Health Care Act and I haven’t heard of one in the works. And there is a good reason why conservative Republicans can’t seem to come up with a better plan, the AHCA already follows conservative doctrines. Far from having the government entering the health care business as Republicans would have us believe, the AHCA relies on private insurance companies competing with each other for business in the exchanges. The only liberal concept involves providing supplements for those unable to afford their insurance.
However, this “liberal” concept saves us, the taxpayers, money. The reason is simple; the poor and insured cannot afford regular doctors visits so they have a tendency to put off medical treatment until a condition has progressed to the point where it is much more difficult and costly to treat. Then when the poor and uninsured do seek medical care they usually go to hospital emergency rooms because there they cannot be refused treatment despite their inability to pay. So they clog up our emergency rooms with non-emergency cases making it difficult for everyone else to be seen in a timely manner. In addition their use of emergency rooms constitutes the most inefficient and costly method of treating non-emergency medical conditions. In addition, when they are hospitalized they can’t pay for their hospital stay.
Who pays for this “free” emergency room and hospital care for those who can’t afford to pay? Why you and I of course end up paying for the care of the poor and uninsured. Do your really think that the hospitals were simply going to absorb those losses? No, they raise their rates of those who can pay meaning that we have to pay higher insurance rates to cover the care of those who can’t. It turns out that it is much cheaper to supplement the insurance of the poor and previously uninsured than it is to cover their unpaid hospital and emergency room bills.
So despite the Republican’s repeated attempts to kill off the Affordable Health Act it is alive, well and still kicking and, from all appearances, it is a fully qualified success. Want proof – look to Ted Cruz. After all he studied the entire bill from stem to stern with the intent for getting rid of it and once he was done he gave the plan the best endorsement he could possibly offer – he is going to use it to insure his own family.