The quiet life-saving success of the ACA

The quiet life-saving success of the ACA

- in Fitzsimon File

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You’d never know it from the overheated political rhetoric of the Right these days, but thousands of people in North Carolina have been signing up for health care coverage since the new enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act began last weekend.

You haven’t heard much about the problems with the healthcare.gov website lately either, the site where people go to review the insurance plans that are offered, to find out if they are eligible for a subsidy to help them pay their monthly premiums, and to finally sign up for coverage.

That’s because the website is working well. One staffer with Enroll America reports that people are routinely able to sign up for coverage in as few as 30 minutes. Funny that hasn’t sparked nearly the headlines last year’s problems with the website garnered.

And most importantly, people are signing up for health care that can save their lives. A single mother with two daughters in Charlotte named Kimberly knows all about that. She signed up last year with the help of a local legal services office.

She had been uninsured for five years and after enrolling in a health care plan under the ACA, she went to have her first physical in a long time. It was fully covered under the plan at no cost to her. Her doctor discovered she had cancer and began treatment.

A year later she is now recovering from her second surgery and doing well and reports that her doctor said the physical and early discovery of the cancer literally saved her life.

Sorien Schmidt, the North Carolina Director of Enroll America said of Kimberly’s story, “It’s an amazing life changing experience when someone knows if they get that diagnosis of cancer or they are in a car wreck, they are not going to go into bankruptcy because of it or not get the treatment at all.”

Life changing and in Kimberly’s case, life-saving. Kimberly is not alone of course. Last year, 357,000 people in North Carolina signed up for coverage, the fifth highest total in the nation. And they did it without a state run insurance exchange. State lawmakers refused to set one up, even though it would have made things easier for people to enroll and most likely encouraged more insurance companies to offer plans.

And thousands more are signing up now. The ideological opponents of the ACA are absurdly exaggerating the increases in premiums costs for the health care plans offered on the federal exchange marketplace and they never mention that the vast majority of people who sign up are eligible for a subsidy to help pay their premiums.

Last year 91 percent of the enrollees in North Carolina received assistance.

Then there are the benefits of the ACA that are rarely mentioned any more. Not only did 357,000 people in North Carolina sign up for affordable coverage last year, almost 100,000 young adults under 26 in the state were able to remain on their parents’ health care policies instead of joining the ranks of the uninsured.

More than 4 million people with a pre-existing health condition in the state no longer have to worry about being denied coverage. The law no longer allows insurers to discriminate against them.

There’s more, no caps on lifetime coverage, no co-pay for preventive services, and help with medication costs for seniors, etc.

And all this has been accomplished despite the fear tactics and misinformation from political opponents of the law and the efforts of some elected officials to make it more difficult for the ACA to succeed.

Remind me again why there’s such a clamor on the Right to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

And then explain it to Kimberly and her two daughters—whose mom is still there to take care of them.