Obamacare: “It is Progress”

Obamacare: “It is Progress”

Today Linda (my wife) has health insurance for the first time in well over two years. She can now get back on schedule with the checkups and procedures that, because of her medical history and family risk factors, the doctors have deemed necessary yet we have not been able to afford. Heaven forbid that any future tests indicate a serious health problem, but we now have peace of mind in knowing that treatment will be available and that she cannot be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition relating to the need for the checkups and procedures for these past several years. This is what we gained today through the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace.

Linda actually received federal approval last October, but could not gain coverage until now due to state politics. Politics, not website glitches, created a 5-month delay. We didn’t even use the federal website; the system always worked with a simple phone call.


At the same time, the same state politics over a different aspect of the ACA created doubt as to whether or not our daughter Lillie would be covered for anything, including her current treatment for migraine headaches – treatment that involves daily medication, visits with a specialist, ongoing tests to determine causes, and prior emergency room visits. It took some effort on our part, but that doubt has now been lifted. We now have an affordable method for keeping Lillie insured for another 10 years regardless of any changes in our family financial situation. For me personally, the many daily medications that are keeping me alive have been made more affordable through the ACA.

Our situation is far from unique. Millions of Americans have similar stories of benefits from the ACA. Many people are receiving benefits without even knowing it. Just to cite one example, many senior citizens are unaware that the new healthcare law is responsible for saving them a lot of money on prescription medicine. In the meantime, the decades-long skyrocketing of overall healthcare costs in America has slowed tremendously with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, something that never occurred before the ACA. The increase in healthcare costs is projected to slow even further in the coming years due to provisions in the ACA. The benefits to the economy of having more people with affordable health care are too numerous to list here.

In an obvious understatement, President Obama said “it is progress”. As progress goes in Washington, this amount of benefit for this many people in one law is a very big deal in American history. But while “it is progress” is an understatement, it nonetheless is an accurate description. The new law is far from perfect. We can come up with a better system that helps more people. The ACA does leave a minority of people “at the margins”, meaning that some people in specific circumstances do not receive all of the benefits that the law was meant to provide. It is, however, a far better healthcare system than what we had before. It is a far better healthcare system than what we would have returned to with repeal.

Those who have been arguing for repeal, and those who continue to do so, are doing it purely for partisan political reasons. They choose to oppose anything that President Obama supports, especially something that is important to him. They choose to agree with whatever their favorite political pundits tell them. In doing so, they choose to believe things that obviously are not true; they choose to believe the “Obamacare horror stories” long after these stories have been easily debunked. They choose to pay attention only to those who they want to agree with. They choose to ignore important facts that do not support their predetermined position. They choose to accept untruths that support their position, and use them to offset truths that do not support their position.

What they do not choose to do, because they cannot: They do not ever come up with an unbiased, comprehensive, fact-based, rational comparison of all of the costs and benefits of the new healthcare law and the old law they support through repeal, costs and benefits for America and all Americans, and have that comparison come out with a net balance in favor of the old law. In other words, they never do a real cost/benefit analysis that supports their position. They can’t do it, because it can’t be done. None of the political pundits that they listen to has done it.

Such a comparison, however, can be done with a balance in favor of better healthcare system, which is why the ACA is far from perfect. The point is that we cannot get to a better system by going back to the old one. But we can get there through the experience of living with, and gaining an understanding of, the benefits and drawbacks of this new system that has correctly been described as “it is progress”.

Jerry Wyant