What the Health Care Law Means to Me
When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed, I was a senior in college. I didn’t quite understand every facet of the bill (and not nearly as much as I do now, having been writing about it for the last week). But I did know one thing: when I graduated college, I wouldn’t have to worry about being dropped from a health care plan. This is just one of the many benefits of the law, but at the time, it was the one that meant the most to me. Because of the Affordable Care Act, I can stay on my parents' health insurance until I turn 26.
On the verge of joining “the real world”, I was confronted with a number of questions: “Where are you going to live?” “What are you going to do?” “Did you get a job?” At a time of so much uncertainty, I was more than happy to cling to one thing that would remain constant: I would have health insurance.
So it’s been two years and a lot has changed …
On March 23, 2010: I was listening to “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, and in the world of health care, women could have been denied insurance coverage based on “pre-existing conditions” like breast cancer or even pregnancy.
Now: I’m listening to “Spectrum” by Florence and the Machines, Jay-Z has a baby named Blue Ivy, and we can look forward to 2014, when insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage based on “pre-existing conditions” thanks to the ACA.
On March 23, 2010: I was walking around with a flip phone, and women were often charged more than men for health insurance (sometimes up to 150 percent).
Now: The iPhone dominates (yes, I admit I have one, too), the flip phone is borderline retro, and the ACA is working to end discriminations — starting in 2014, insurers will no longer be able to charge higher premiums to women.
On March 23, 2010: Oprah Winfrey had the highest rated talk show in television history. If you got sick and were forced to stay in bed and watch that show, your insurance company may have been busy finding a mistake on your application to use as grounds to stop covering you.
Now: She no longer has a talk show, and instead has her own network (literally called OWN - The Oprah Winfrey Network), which is failing in a very high-profile way. If you get sick and are stuck at home watching her show, you can rest assured your insurance company won’t drop you because the ACA made the practice of dropping coverage based on application errors illegal.
On March 23, 2010: Rick Santorum wasn’t taken seriously (mostly because he lost his 2006 Senate re-election by 18 points), and much to Rick’s joy, contraception wasn’t covered as preventive health care.
Now: He’s a serious contender in the Republican presidential primary, and has the second-highest number of delegates; much to his dismay, birth control will soon (as of August 2012) be covered without a co-pay for women.
On March 23, 2010: Duke was the best at basketball — winning the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament; women (and men) had to pay co-pays and out of pocket costs for preventive services such as breast cancer screenings and colonoscopies.
Now: Duke is not as good at basketball and has ruined many people’s brackets, losing in the first round of the March Madness tournament to a 15 seed (this is only the sixth time in NCAA Men’s basketball history that 15 seed has beaten a two). Speaking of astounding statistics, we’re two years after the ACA was signed, and more than 20 million women received preventive services without a co-pay.
From technology to music, the world is constantly moving and evolving. So many things have changed, it’s hard to keep track. The one thing that has been constant in the last two years is that I’ve had health insurance — because of the Affordable Care Act.
Because the health care law is so comprehensive, there’s a lot to like about it, and Americans are benefiting from it in many different ways. Before the health care law, many women had to pay out-of-pocket for preventive services and screenings. Now, because of the health care law, more than 20 million women have received preventive care without a co-pay. Two years, 20 million women. That’s what the Affordable Care Act is about. Two years and we still have a lot to look forward to. The benefits are just beginning — what does the health care law mean to you?