Over the past several weeks, the 115th Congress has considered many options to repeal and/or replace the Affordable Care Act. Current changes being discussed fall short of full repeal but would undermine the ACA and “allow Obamacare to explode,” resulting in the loss of health insurance for millions.
So what really happens when people lose their health insurance? In terms of health, if you are uninsured you are 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with late stage breast cancer, 29 percent more likely to die of a heart attack and 70 percent more likely to die of colon cancer.
If you are uninsured and poor, your baby is 50 percent more likely to die in the first year of life. In fact, if you are uninsured, you have a higher mortality rate than your fully-insured neighbor. In simpler words, you are more likely to die.
Along with actions that would leave many uninsured, Republicans continue to propose ideas that would leave millions underinsured. Framed as giving Americans the freedom to choose less expensive plans, these proposals would allow insurance companies to offer insurance that might not cover things like prevention, mental health, emergency room services or prenatal care.
These “cheaper” plans also could have annual or lifetime payment limits, meaning if the insured person got cancer, or gave birth to a premature baby, their bills would exceed the insurance limits leaving them with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical debt.
Rather than being presented with a choice, people would be forced to buy these plans because after the loss of Medicaid or tax cuts provided under Obamacare, they wouldn’t be able to afford real health insurance plans. Where is the freedom in this choice?
You will find no compassionate conservativism or “kinder, gentler nation” in these proposals, only greater vulnerability to illness, bankruptcy or even death. If this is not the America in which you want to live (or die), please remain vigilant. Beware of false promises hidden in words like “freedom” and “choice.” Ask your representatives to reject any proposal that would result in people losing their health coverage or that would degrade the quality of health insurance.
Real health insurance should protect Americans from bankruptcy and also should also help us stay healthy — and alive.
Diane R. Miller