Scott Clark wrote a letter about his dissatisfaction with the health insurance plan he will be purchasing as a result of his current plan being canceled (“For many in Maine, Obamacare no bargain,” Dec. 3).
I can relate. I had to shop for a new plan when my plan was canceled. I would like to offer some information that may help Mr. Clark and other consumers through this transition.
In my case (62 years old with no dependents), there is a plan available through Maine Community Health Options for $547.14/month, lower than what Mr. Clark quoted. I do not know his exact circumstances, but I recommend that anyone looking for health insurance shop for the best plan at the lowest cost. The Maine Community Health Options website, for example, is easy to navigate and makes it easy to compare plans.
New plans cover many preventive-care procedures for free, such as annual checkups, colonoscopies, flu shots and much more. These free procedures should improve health through early detection and education, a great benefit for all consumers. A high deductible doesn’t prevent consumers from receiving preventive care.
Mr. Clark is concerned about a mandate for $6,350 deductibles. I believe this is a misunderstanding on his part. New plans can have a maximum out-of-pocket cost of $6,350. Out-of-pocket costs are different from deductibles, which I have seen as low as $650. The new requirement eliminates plans with high deductibles that offered no protection from unlimited health costs.
This is a complex topic, and I am not an expert. If anyone is finding it difficult to navigate the new requirements, they can get help. Navigators have been trained to help consumers through the complexities of the process. Local organizations that provide this help can be found at https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/.
Beliefs should be considered under Obamacare options
Health care is a basic human right that all are entitled to. Accessing affordable health care should be automatic and yet is not. The Affordable Care Act attempts to right that wrong by providing wider access to health care.
Everyone should have the same choices for options in a health care plan. However, no one should be forced to pay for a plan that includes options that will never be used, especially if they violate their religious beliefs.
I am pro-life, and yet I just as firmly believe that each person has the right to make choices for taking care of their own health and that I do not have the right to make those choices for them.
The Bill of Rights was written to ensure fundamental rights, including religious freedom. Mandating that employers provide access to contraceptives and abortion services, the ACA violates that First Amendment right for business owners whose religious beliefs are in opposition to those options.
No one says that those options can’t be available to consumers. As legally available choices, they should. However, I believe no one should pay for my choices if those violate their beliefs, and I shouldn’t have to pay for theirs.
Logically, churches are exempt from this mandate. But if their social outreach programs serve anyone other than someone who shares the same faith, those are not exempt. This makes no sense. If the religious tenets are demonstrated and supported in the outreach programs, the same exemption to the ACA on religious grounds should apply.
Some religious exemptions have been granted, but with several cases winding their way through the court system, including two scheduled to be presented to the Supreme Court, this issue is far from resolved.
Privatization of health services not cost-effective
Many are complaining about the roll out of the Affordable Care Act and the idea that government is once again directing our behavior.
I have to admit to a bias. I’ve been part of U.S. “socialized” medical services for years. Both the Veterans Affairs Department and Medicare provide superior medicine at a reasonable price, and I have no complaints.
The blame for most of the issues with the ACA website can be attributed to Ronald Reagan’s policies. Many administrations have followed his advocacy of private contractors performing work needed by the government, and it’s been a dismal and expensive experiment.
Oh, sure, leaders can claim they have shrunk government, but what they don’t tell us is the cost.
The logic is simple and unassailable: Governments don’t make a profit, don’t have exorbitantly compensated executives and have no stockholders demanding growth or dividends. Fact: It is far cheaper to employ government workers to perform all but the most esoteric tasks and manufacturing.
The Republican Party has attempted to thwart the ACA and the idea of public medical care for years in spite of the obvious cost savings and fairness to all of us. Now Republican governors, including our own, are engaged in the obstruction game. Failing to expand Medicaid and to provide a state-run website for the ACA is a slap in the face of those with inadequate or no insurance.
The idea that privatizing essential government services is somehow more “American,” “democratic” or cost-effective is absurd, and I am unable to find one instance where costs were reduced or services improved by privatization.
ACA needs to acknowledge voices of the underserved
The Affordable Care Act is a great improvement for the gender and sexuality minority community. Banning discrimination against pre-existing conditions will help transgender individuals who have historically had difficulty obtaining coverage. Previously, insurance companies have had the option of considering transgender identity a pre-existing condition.
However, transgender individuals will still have barriers to accessing care. The ACA specifies certain services will be available to men or women. For example, women will have access to gynecological services.
What about transgender and intersex male-identifying individuals who need to access these services? This could include someone such as a man who realizes as an adult that he has some female biology and needs health care that includes gynecological services.
There is also no mention of transition-related services for transgender individuals, and little research done on the correlation between mental health and suicide and access to transition-related care, making it easy for the government to decide what is and isn’t necessary.
Transgender individuals will also be disproportionately affected by Maine not passing the expansion of Medicaid. According to the Center for American Progress, transgender Americans are twice as likely to make under $10,000 a year. Those who make $11,000 and who have no children are the group that will slip through the cracks in being able to obtain coverage.
If we are going to make health care a priority, we need to hear the voices of underserved groups. We need to learn from them about their health care experiences and needs, not just decide what they need for them.