Soon I will play in a golf tournament with my longtime friend - let’s call him Frank – and I know what’s coming.
If the past is any indicator, we will not have putted out of the second hole before Frank will start railing against the vexatious Affordable Care Act.
I will change the subject and we’ll hack around in peace for a few holes. But the topic will return again and again. Frank doesn't like that his tax dollars pay for somebody else's subsidy.
While I am not a big fan of the ACA, I'm not a critic of it either.
I simply find it pointless to debate since so few people really comprehend what the ACA is, and more importantly, what it isn’t. It’s not government-run health care, and it’s not single-payer. And I'll explain to Frank that his tax dollars always paid for somebody else's unpaid medical bills.
The ACA also isn’t very effective at the moment. But it’s a starting point. As a citizen, I find it problematic that it does little to address cost containment. Nor does it give many working-class Americans a realistic avenue to affordable treatment. A little ironic, given the title, don’t you think?
But covering more people is great, as is giving those with pre-existing conditions an avenue to health care.
Like I said, it’s a start – long-overdue inroads to health care for all. And many states are taking advantage of it to keep the ball rolling.
This fall, California voters will decide whether to lower some prescription drug prices. Coloradans will vote on a state version of a "single-payer" government-run health system, similar to what Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed in his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The measures are among the more far-reaching health care questions to be decided by voters around the country on Election Day. A proposal in Ohio to limit drug costs didn't make it on the ballot this year, but proponents are pushing for a vote in 2017.
Still, the U.S. health care system, as I will patiently explain to Frank, remains a disjointed mass of different systems due to our passion for personal freedom and, yes, inequality.
Take the recent news that the National Basketball Players Association voted unanimously to fund health insurance for all retired NBA players with at least three years of service in the league. The program is the first of its kind among North American professional sports.
I couldn’t find any dollar figures on this, but the league is swimming in cash, and this health care program won’t be cheap. The plans include full includes medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage with “modest out-of-pocket costs.”
UnitedHealthcare won the contract to provide services.
For most of us, our health care hasn’t changed much. We get coverage through our employers, and the private-sector free market system plays the biggest role in how we receive care.
The ACA ensnared existing systems and personal values in its web, while settling for modest goals – universal coverage, no denial of pre-existing conditions, etc.
That’s a start, right?
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected].
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