Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Time to sign up for health insurance


     Open enrollment for coverage by the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, ends this year on March 31. We encourage all those without insurance to visit the health insurance exchange website in your state—in Idaho it is Your Health Idaho—and select the plan that best fits your needs.

     This is no small issue.

     Sen. Angus King, an Independent from Maine, believes that having insurance is a matter of life and death. It’s a belief grounded in his own experience. King survived melanoma because he had the insurance that supported treatment, he says. King also believes that 15,000 to 25,000 people a year die in the United States because they do not have insurance.

     The Affordable Care Act has set March 31 as the deadline for individuals to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. Some argue, sometimes quite gleefully, that any failure of younger people to obtain coverage is why the ACA will fail. Others are convinced that the ACA requirements are the very things causing them financial and health harm, even in the face of factual evidence to the contrary.

     Sen. King, however, is not treating all this as a simple matter of politics. 

     “That’s a scandal—those people (the ones who say young people would be better off if they did not bother to insure themselves) are guilty of murder in my opinion,” according to King. “Some of those people they persuade are going to end up dying because they don’t have health insurance. For people who do that to other people in the name of some obscure political ideology is one of the grossest violations of our humanity I can think of. ”

     We could not agree more. It may be a kind thing to have a fundraiser at a local watering hole to help stave off financial ruin from a torn ACL or a broken leg or cancer, but fundraisers are not only bad social policy, they cannot even accomplish their stated goal when even simple surgeries run well into five figures. Scare stories and political opposition have created a fear that signing up with the ACA will either be ruinously expensive or pointlessly frustrating. The reality these many months after its rollout is neither.

     A health care system that depends on insurance depends on insurance being available to everyone and everyone taking advantage of that access. The right thing to do is sign up for insurance against the unthinkable and the unaffordable. Time’s up.




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