By Azher Quader, MD
Compassionate Care Network (CCN)
There is a lot of misinformation and lies being spread to discredit the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obamacare. As a result many ordinary folks who can benefit from it are hesitating and holding back. There are of course other reasons that are creating challenges for many who wish to enroll. Some have to do with web site problems, some to do with lack of computer skills, some to do with language issues and some to do with reaching navigators. Yet the need for enrolment to access health care is a race against time now with the approaching deadline at the end of March.
Here are the simple facts that make the case for enrolment in Obamacare.
1. No one can be denied coverage due to preexisting conditions like diabetes, blood pressure, arthritis, asthma, heart disease, cancer etc.
2. Based on household income and number of people in the household many individuals will qualify for government subsidies to reduce cost of premiums or even eliminate them if their income is less than 400% of Federal Poverty Guidelines. (The ceiling is $94,200 per year for a family of 4; $62K for family of 2).
3. Children can stay on their parents plan till age 26.
4. All insurance companies are now required to offer plans which meet minimum standards to include coverage for such services as hospitalization, outpatient care, mental health services, drug addiction treatments, preventive care, rehabilitative services, prescription drugs plus a few more.
5. Lifetime caps on payment for treatments have been eliminated assuring patients receiving expensive chemotherapy for cancer can have the peace of mind that treatments will not be interrupted when they most need it due to reaching financial thresholds.
6. Coverage for preventive care would allow more people to obtain mammograms and colonoscopy without charge, thus enabling the early detection of breast and colon cancer, two potentially curable cancers when caught early. Other free screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart risk thru periodic lab tests have also become part of the benefit package. This is particularly important for the South Asian community since the incidence of these conditions is very high among them and often leads to more frequent hospitalizations and poorer outcomes when regular checkups are ignored. There are 27 million Americans suffering from Diabetes. 6 million of them donâ€™t even know that they have it. 1 in 3 have high blood pressure, which can lead to strokes if untreated. Over 1 million suffer heart attacks annually; sadly half of them do not survive and for many it may have been the first encounter with their heart condition. Hence the importance of preventive care in the new law.
7. The challenge for providing proper care to the mentally ill has also been addressed in ACA by mandating all insurance companies to cover for mental illnesses.
8. The ACA gives plenty of flexibility in the choice of physicians and hospitals that each insured can choose from, as their primary care providers and preferred hospitals.
The bottom line is equally simple. This program is a life saver and without doubt a major milestone in the delivery of health care in America. Those who are uninsured should join. The web site www.getcoveredIllinois.gov ; has all the relevant information to help with enrollment.
CCN is recruiting volunteers to serve as Health Educators within each mosque, synagogue, temple and church community who can explain the benefits of the program to their respective faith groups during the next two months. If interested please call 773 775 3600 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. CCN will provide the Talking Points and the navigator support for enrollment.