The other day, I went into my doctor for an appointment. With my new Affordable Care Act provider, the co-pay I had to make at the front window was...$5. Even the receptionist had to double-check to make sure that was right, and then she started laughing.
I don't know what the regular cost would have been without coverage. Let's say $75, that's not unreasonable. So, it was a savings for $70 for just a single, basic visit.
I have a single prescription for medication every month. The cost now under my ACA plan is a whopping $3. It used to be $15. That's a savings of $144 a year.
Together, these two very simple matters are a savings of $214.
Now, mind you, that has nothing to do with the savings I get on my monthly insurance. It has nothing to do with monthly insurance at all, nothing to do with how much one saves or doesn't save on the plan itself. That's another matter entirely. It's just a core savings that comes from merely having ACA coverage for basic medical issues anyone deals with. Depending on the coverage one signed up for -- and the procedures themselves -- those numbers would be different from person to person, but the point is that it comes from basic coverage available to everyone as part of the program.
Almost all of the financial reporting on the Affordable Care Act (or, of course, "Obamacare," as so many like to call it) has been about the monthly cost of signing up with a provider. Many people pay a lot less, some people have had to pay more, and most probably don't qualify for savings for a subsidized plan at all because they already have insurance through their employer. Just like everyone gets different amounts of Social Security. Coverage is not the same for all people.
But as I've been writing at length, the monthly bill isn't the only benefits of the ACA, let alone the only financial benefits of the law. Even if a person doesn't qualify for an ACA health plan, you -- and by "you" I mean everyone -- still get the benefits of the new law. Things like how you (as in, everyone) can't be refused coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and how a family (all families) can include their children up to the age of 26 on their plan, and such. But everyone (you!) also benefits by what is covered, procedures like preventative care and standard checkups and more. And much of this has very real, and very substantive financial savings -- just not the financial savings you read about in the news about monthly bills.
But $214 is a very real, very significant financial savings under any condition -- yet even more so when you consider that this is just from one basic appointment and one medication. What if you take several prescribed drugs? What if your spouse does, as well? What if one of your covered children does? What if you alone have several appointments during the course of the year? Or if each covered member of your family has even just a single, basic checkup -- let alone several appointments during the year? Mind you, these aren't outlandish possibilities here, I'm just talking about the most basic, standard medical realities. ONE appointment a year, ONE prescription. Suddenly, that substantive $214 savings ratchets up, perhaps by a lot. Perhaps $600-$750 a year, or more. Every year, year after year.
But even if it's just you alone, and even just this one simple scenario, it's a $214 savings. Separate of monthly bills. A very real, personal financial savings from "Obamacare" you don't read about.
And lest anyone thinks this is just me pointing out something by supposedly twisting facts for some unknown mystical agenda, I bring your attention to an article on Monday -- March 3. It was not in some renowned "liberal" bastion of the news, but rather the Wall Street Journal. "Obamacare Effects Account for Most of Income, Spending Increases." Yes, that Wall Street Journal. You can read the whole thing here.
What the article points out is that rather than being a supposed drag on the economy, which the Far Right has been decrying, the ACA has actually helped the economy. As the article says in its first sentence, "The Affordable Care Act, President Barack Barack Obama’s signature health law, is already boosting household income and spending."
It notes that that consumer spending went up "a better-than-expected 0.4% and personal incomes climbed 0.3%" in the first month of the year, after new health plans kicked in. "The new health-care law," the conservative paper owned by Rupert Murdoch reports, "accounted for a big chunk of the increase on both fronts."
Helping these figures, the articles explains, are that Medicaid benefits were expanded by over $19 billion. And Obamacare also provided tax credits and premium subsidies of another almost $15 billion. All of this worked to improve personal incomes and increase consumer spending. Which aided the economy. "Taken together," the Wall Street Journal writes, "the Obamacare provisions are responsible for about three-quarters of January’s overall rise in Americans’ incomes."
And these "better-than-expected" improvements to consumer spending came even while, the WSJ adds, the Republican-led House let extended unemployment insurance expire, cutting $16.7 billion dollars that would have otherwise been available for spending.
I understand that there are a lot of people outraged by the Affordable Care Act. I understand that most of these people can be described as conservatives. And I'm guessing that most of them are outraged because they've been told they should be outraged. And they've been told they should be outraged because the health care plan comes from Barack Obama. I feel comfortable in my guess because the actual numbers on savings and consumer spending and benefits to the economy show the "outrage" to have no basis in fact. And because the plan itself is based on parts of a plan that Republican themselves proposed years back.
By hey, why let a good thing stand in the way of far more comforting blind, irrational hatred?
The good news, though, is that if this wrenching hatred just makes you totally sick...you're covered! And will save money in the process. Which helps the economy.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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