Approximately 450,000 people in the KC metro area either are uninsured or on Medicaid. This represents about 25% of the total population in our area. Of this amount, over half are uninsured. This number has been rising dramatically in the last few years as people have lost their jobs – especially those with quality education who have never been uninsured before.
When most people lose their job they also lose their health insurance. When they lose their health insurance they become susceptible for bankruptcy because of medical emergencies that go unpaid. When fully implemented in 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will go a long way in removing many of these obstacles that can cause bankruptcy, including the ability to obtain health insurance even if you have a preexisting health condition.
The insurance exchanges that will be required by 2014 will also give folks an opportunity to compare prices of insurance coverage and chose the best plan for their family. This competition will allow all of us to obtain the best insurance coverage at the lowest possible price, even if you do not have a job or if your current employer does not offer health insurance coverage.
Although these components of the ACA will help improve the situation we are in today, the best solution to assist the uninsured is to create more jobs that offer health insurance. While the Affordable Care Act is not perfect and undoubtedly will be modified as the years go by just like any other legislation, it clearly offers many improvements to our current health care system. The emphasis on prevention of illness and rewarding doctors who prevent illness rather than only paying doctors to treat illness is also a major breakthrough.
I am glad the Supreme Court will decide the “constitutionally” of the new law sooner rather than later so we can get on with the important work of reforming our current health care system.