by Carol A Westbrook
Before you, progressive reader, quit in disgust after reading the title, or you, conservative reader, quit in disgust after reading a few more paragraphs, please hear me out. I'm proposing that we repeal Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act, ACA) but not replace it with another medical insurance program. Instead, I propose that we re-think the entire concept of how we provide health care in this country.
The ACA's stated purpose is "to ensure that all Americans have access to high-quality, affordable health care." Regardless of whether or not you believe good health is a fundamental human right, it is inexcusable for an affluent, first world country like ours not to provide it for its citizens. The good health of our nation is vitally important to its success, guaranteeing as it does a capable workforce, a strong military, and a healthy upcoming generation. However, I have seen the results of Obamacare from many perspectives, including that of a physician provider in a rural community, as well as that of a personal user of both insurance and Medicare. I do not believe the ACA succeeded in meeting its objectives.
It is true that the ACA provided health care insurance for millions of Americans who didn't have it previously, expanded Medicaid for the uninsured, got rid of the pre-existing condition exclusions, allowed our grown adult children to remain on our policies longer, and started the ball rolling on electronic records. These are great results.
But the ACA also caused the cost of health insurance to skyrocket, caused many people to lose their coverage, and, for some, their jobs. It forced many small doctors' practices to close, especially in rural areas, resulting in an overall decline in the quality of care in many regions. It limited patients' choices of physicians and hospitals, separating patients from their longstanding doctors. There were no checks on health care costs, which even today continue to increase. But worst of all, it mandated that our health care would be taken out of the hands of doctors and put into the hand businessmen–the insurance companies.