The new healthcare law goes into effect on October 1, 2013. There is widespread confusion over the law and what is expected of American citizens who are now required to have healthcare coverage. Examiner.com has interviewed government leaders and American citizens about the healthcare law and how it will affect small business owners, employees, and customers.
While many small business owners have expressed fear and anxiety that the new law will bankrupt their small business; nevertheless, the government leaders have said that programs which are being put into place will provide supplemental support to help American citizens and small business owners to cover the cost of the new health insurance programs.
However, American is a capitalistic country and health insurance companies are businesses that are in place to make money. The reason most Americans do not have health insurance is because they do not have money to pay for it. So the question is how the new law changes the condition of people having money to pay for health care premiums.
There are new laws passed by Congress every year. Americans are expected to know the law. Judges have stated repeatedly that ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law. In the case of the healthcare law there is mass confusion because from the beginning in 2009 there were so many people who contested the law and misinformation and disinformation about the law added to the confusion.
Many Congressmen and Congresswomen held town hall meetings to discuss the law and to explain the law. Unfortunately many of those town hall meetings became shouting matches and confrontations that did little to explain the law or to help people understand the law better. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton held a town hall meeting in Washington, D.C. on September 15, 2009 which was her attempt to help District of Columbia residents to understand the healthcare law. The present writer attended the meeting.
The Norton Town Hall meeting was held at the Department of Commerce across from the White House and had a near capacity audience. She also placed the town hall meeting online so that D.C. residents who were unable to attend the event in person could watch it online. Samuel Johnson said, "The real test of any civilization lies in its treatment of the poor." Norton has been passionate on this theme. The question was raised that with all the lies and distortions that have been told about healthcare how does the customer find the truth.
The Norton Healthcare Town Hall meeting, unlike many in the nation, was very civil. People listened to the Congresswoman. There was no shouting or yelling and people allowed each other to speak. Congresswoman Norton explained that there would be no death panels and that much of what people were hearing came from misinformation that was being disseminated by those who opposed the law in the first place.
As with any law the question for many at the town hall meeting was how does the law affect me? Norton explained that every American citizen would be required to have healthcare insurance. Apart from the American distaste of big brother telling them what to do was the practical problem of where would the money come from to pay for those premiums.
In 2003 the present writer agreed to pay $10,000 a year in healthcare insurance premiums to Blue Cross/Blue Shield to provide health insurance for his family. The thought of poor people being forced to pay $10,000 cash for healthcare insurance raised a thought of being carted off to jail. Most people cannot afford to pay $10,000 for healthcare coverage and that accounts for a great deal the anger and frustration about the law. The healthcare law will make it possible for some Americans to purchase healthcare insurance for less than $100 per month.
The American government is trying to explain the law and what is expected of each citizen. Unfortunately, there are problems even in the process of explaining the law. For example, the Healthcare Marketplace is the official government website designed to explain the law. As a working journalist your reporter is on the list to receive information from the Healthcare Marketplace. An error sent the D.C. resident information for a person living in Massachusetts. The present writer has never spent a night in Massachusetts.
Later an email was sent to apologize for the error and stated, “We’re working hard to make sure you get to the right place to apply for Marketplace coverage, starting in October. Yesterday, we pushed the wrong button and you might have received a message or two that was meant for someone in a different state. Sorry about that!” There was no conspiracy or attempt to subvert the reporter’s constitutional right to live in the city of his choice. It was an error.
Newspaper reporters make errors. A story on the present writer from December 4, 2000, still creates confusion over the writer’s attendance at Northeastern Oklahoma State University in 1975 before the school changed its name to Northeastern State University. In Oklahoma the school is referred to as Northeastern. The Northeastern in the Northeast is Northeastern University in Boston. Thus when the reporter wrote the article he made an error and wrote that the writer attended Northeastern in Boston. Many people never read the correction that was published in the newspaper several days later.
Customers of the Healthcare Marketplace must realize that there are over 300 million Americans who will be effected by the new Healthcare law. 300 million people is a lot of people. There will be errors made and there will be problems in implementing anything new in the federal government. The key is to understand that human beings are prone to make mistakes. It does not mean that the healthcare law is flawed. It means there will be errors and complications as the law is implemented.
Another problem with the new healthcare law was the unfortunate labeling the law as Obamacare. Even though President Barack Obama said in the Presidential Debates that he liked the title it is not the United States Government title of the law. Public Law 111-148 of the 111 Congress is entitled “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. H.R. 3590.” While many Americans were fuming over what they felt was the federal government encroachment into their private lives, Congress passed the law.
The Healthcare Marketplace has sent out 16 emails since August 5, 2013, to announce the new law requirements and to share information on the new law. All but one email gave the correct information. The information provided by the Health Insurance Marketplace is the governments’ way of making certain that every person is aware of the new law.
It is also true that employers have traditionally been the number one source of providing health insurance to employees. In 1969 as an employee the present writer had health insurance. It was never a question of having to purchase health insurance. Human Resources made certain that employees were informed about their healthcare coverage; however, in 2009 when so many employees were fired due to the financial crisis many people found themselves without jobs and without healthcare coverage.
Howard University Hospital treats many patients who are the victims of shootings or stabbings who do not have health insurance. The law requires them to treat patients who are taken to the emergency room. The loss from nonpayment of these services ends up on the books of the hospital and accounts for the tremendous deficit that the hospital reports every year. The new healthcare law will insure that every person has healthcare insurance.
According to the government the percentage of people without health insurance in 2011 decreased from 2010. In 2011, the percentage was 15.7%, compared to 16.3% in 2010. During 2011, an estimated 48.61 million people were without health insurance. If any of the Americans without health insurance were to contract cancer or a major illness they would be dependent on the government to care for their illness. Health insurance is like auto insurance now. A person will be fined for allowing their auto insurance to expire. Every driver is required to have auto insurance when purchasing a new car. There are no exceptions.
The hernia surgery mentioned earlier in this article cost over $22,000 to repair including the cost of hospitalization at then Richland Memorial Hospital and later Charlotte Mecklenburg Hospital after being medically evacuated from the return flight to Washington after the wound opened and began to bleed on the plane. The entire costs of both hospital stays and the surgery was covered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Without health insurance the private care provided by Dr. William Moore, Jr., and Dr. Daniel Hayes would not have been possible because unlike emergency rooms and trauma centers private doctors do have the right to refuse treatment to American citizens who do not have health insurance.
If a person is drowning he or she does not care who throws them a lifeline, they just want to be saved. The time frame for being saved is short. The Affordable Health Care Act was meant to be a lifeline to American citizens without healthcare coverage. For Americans who were fortunate enough to have health insurance for 40 years it may be difficult to imagine or identify with people who have never had health insurance.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for safeguarding the health of American citizens. The idea did not begin in 2009. Having a federal agency to look after the health of Americans was actually proposed in 1922 by President Warren G. Harding. The idea finally became law under the Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The Health Insurance Marketplace has sent the following emails to explain the new healthcare law. All of the emails have provided the correct email with the exception of the September 17th email.
· September 17, 2013: Find the Marketplace in your state.
· September 16, 2013: 15 Days to Open Enrollment: Visit Health Connector
· September 16, 2013: 15 Days to Open Enrollment Visit the DC Health Link
· September 13, 2013: Malik is 23 and needs insurance, Read his story.
· September 11, 2013: 20 days to Open Enrollment: Here’s how the Marketplace helps women
· September 6, 2013: 25 Days to Open Enrollment: See the top ways to save in the Health Insurance Marketplace
· September 5, 2013: Check out 10 health care benefits covered in the Marketplace
· September 3, 2013: Dental coverage: Another reason to shop in the Health Insurance Marketplace
· August 30, 2013: Howard doesn't have health coverage—yet. Read his story.
· August 12, 2013: 50 Days to Open Enrollment: Step 1—Create a Marketplace Account
· August 9, 2013: Jamie does not have health coverage—yet. Read her story.
· August 8, 2013: See how you could save on the Marketplace coverage
· August 6, 2013: October 1 is coming fast-It’s time to set up your Marketplace account!
· August 5, 2013: Subscription Change Confirmation
· August 5, 2013: Welcome to the Health Insurance Marketplace!
In August of 1989 President George Bush wrote a letter to the present writer to console the writer’s anger over a Supreme Court ruling that refused to ban the burning of the American Flag. President Bush said that even though we do not agree with a certain Supreme Court decision that as American citizens we must respect that the Supreme Court is the law of the land. He was right. The Supreme Court has ruled and upheld the Affordable Healthcare Law as passed by Congress and signed by the President of the United States of America. It is the law of the land.
For District of Columbia residents who are confused about the new healthcare law there will be a series of classes to help residents understand the law. Times and location for the healthcare classes will be published on this Examiner.com page.
If you are a District of Columbia resident please go to www.HealthCare.gov for more information on the October 1, 2013 date. You can also sign up to get emails as featured in this article by signing up with Marketplace@healthcare.gov today.
October 1, 2013, will be here soon. The process will be less confusing for District of Columbia residents who allow the customer service experts at HHS to help them understand the process.