The Duncan Banner
These first three weeks into the largest social program the United States has undertaken have not been without logistical “bumps-in-the-road”. There is enough blame to go around - both sides of the political aisle have had a hand in the problems that arose within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s beginning. First, we waited to see what the Supreme Court would do. Then October 1st arrived and the government was shut down by a contingency from the House of Representatives. Since the Law could not be defeated, our nation’s budget was the next target.
With a new budget deadline of January 15, 2014, Health and Human Services - overseers of the Act - will have about 82 days with a full workforce to smooth out those “bumps-in-the-road.”
The flooding of the Insurance Marketplace with individuals looking for insurance was caused, in large part ,by 32 states which refused to establish a state-run Marketplace. To compound the problem, there were states - like Oklahoma - that did not Expanded its Medicaid (Sooner Care) Program. Next, Oklahoma obtained a “waiver” for individuals whose incomes are 100 percent below the poverty level. For individuals whose incomes are between 100 and 138 percent of the poverty level, health insurance for them is the EMERGENCY ROOM (if one is still operating in their area).
The airwaves have been full of quotes about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will “.. cost people jobs” or “..cause small business’s to close their doors,” but no quotes from the people and businesses that have benefited from the Law.
Currently, under Oklahoma’s Medicaid program (Sooner Care), 49.9 percent of enrolled kids do not receive dental care. The children of Marketplace policyholders will have both dental and optical care. For those families who are content with their current health insurance, their children may remain on their plan until the age of 26.
Women will now be treated equally when applying for health insurance -not charged more because of gender - with the added provision that their insurance cannot be cancelled if they become pregnant. At present, as described by the Oklahoma Policy Institute, Oklahoma does not have an insurance policy which includes pre-natal care. Statistically, Oklahoma currently reports a high mortality percentage of both baby and mother.
The Marketplace offers approximately 53 different plans under four major titles -
BRONZE, SILVER, GOLD and PLATINUM - offering varying co-pays and extents of coverage that meet the requirements of the Law.
Oklahoma Insurance Department Commissioner Doaks’ criticism of the cost of insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act can be traced back to Oklahoma’s lax regulations on insurance providers. Part of this problem is resolved by the Act itself because rates cannot rise more than 10 percent without approval of the administrators of the Marketplace. Doaks’ claim that “..You need to watch out or your insurance from the Marketplace could cost you thousands..” is childish. We know that the amounts we pay for any insurance policy - health, life, car, home, or recreational vehicle - is based on deductibles or co-pays we choose.
At present, 23.2 percent of the median income of an Oklahoma family is spent on health insurance premiums. This is the 11th highest in the nation.
An example of the Affordable Care Law’s importance is the DHS survey showing 72.5 percent of full-time, year-round Oklahoma workers with health insurance reported excellent or very good health while 58 percent of the uninsured did not.
If Oklahoma does not Expand Medicaid, by 2016 there will be a projected 515,000 people without insurance. 331,000 will soon discover they are the “uninsured!”
These numbers, gained through census reports, health department surveys and questionnaires, show why the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is so important to the every day life of all Oklahomans!
Kenneth Wells, 580-444-2563,