Column - Facts about ObamaCare should dispel hysteriaEven some of my relatives who should know better have been buying into some of the scare tactics waged against “ObamaCare” in recent months. Relatives and acquaintances, knowing I am in favor of the Affordable Health Care Act, have asked me all kinds of horror questions: Will they really have a death panel that will decide some people are just too old to get health care?
By: Dennis Dalman, Alexandria Echo Press
Even some of my relatives who should know better have been buying into some of the scare tactics waged against “ObamaCare” in recent months.
Relatives and acquaintances, knowing I am in favor of the Affordable Health Care Act, have asked me all kinds of horror questions: Will they really have a death panel that will decide some people are just too old to get health care? Is it true they can fine or jail us if we don’t buy insurance? Someone told me I will have to give up my insurance and join some government insurance policy. Is that true?
The answers to those questions are no, no, no! What really irks me is that if people are against ObamaCare, fine, that’s their prerogative, but those people should reject the plan for what it is, not for what they wildly, inaccurately claim that it is.
I was so disgusted by all the alarmist information about ObamaCare, I decided to do some research into what it’s all about. Granted, the law is complicated, but the following, to the best of my knowledge and research, are the basic facts: Under the individual mandate, people will have to buy a private insurance plan with many to choose from through an interstate exchange designed to be highly competitive in price. Those who do not purchase insurance cannot be jailed, nor can their property be seized. Those who refuse to purchase a plan can, however, be “penalized.” That is, if they have income-tax refunds due from Uncle Sam, the government can keep those refunds. For an individual, Uncle Sam can keep $95 in 2014, the year ObamaCare goes into effect. That amount will increase, year by year. The penalty in 2016 would be $695. The government cannot bill you for the penalties; it can – I repeat – can keep income tax refunds due you.
Subsidies will be available to people earning 133 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which ranges from $14,856 to $44,680 in 2012, depending on family size. In that respect, ObamaCare resembles MinnnesotaCare for which people pay various amounts according to their incomes. With ObamaCare, if people are unable to find an insurance plan that costs less than 8 percent of their income, there will be no penalty for not having insurance.
If you have your own insurance now or insurance through an employer, you can keep it. You will NOT have to buy any other insurance plan through the interstate exchange.
ObamaCare is NOT a government take-over of the health-care system. The entire plan is predicated upon private insurance carriers, and people can choose whichever private plan suits their needs. In fact, ObamaCare is just about the opposite of a one-payer European-style system.
ObamaCare will not have “death panels.” What’s ironic is that we already have the equivalent of death panels in our unfair, lopsided system. When people cannot afford health insurance, they naturally avoid getting medical check-ups. By the time many of those unfortunate people are in pain and diagnosed with a terminal illness, it is often too late, and they die. ObamaCare emphasizes preventive check-ups and lifestyles to keep people from getting seriously (and expensively) sick.
All in all, I would much prefer a one-payer system, like almost all countries in the world now have. However, ObamaCare is, in my opinion, infinitely better than the current system in which 50 million or more people do not have – or cannot afford – any insurance. ObamaCare is, at the very least, a step toward universal affordability and access for all. RomneyCare is working quite well, even better than expected, in Massachusetts where, irony of ironies, then-Governor Mitt Romney introduced a similar plan, also based on the individual mandate.
I do respect those who oppose ObamaCare for rational reasons they may have. However, I wish opponents would at least quit inventing – or repeating – the ridiculous horror stories about it. Such hysterical nonsense is based on nothing but rampant distortions, scare tactics and outright lies.
I have a hunch that when more people actually understand how it works, most will be extremely grateful to President Barack Obama that we have it.
Dennis Dalman, a former reporter for the Echo Press, is a regular contributing columnist to the Opinion page. He is currently the editor of the St. Joseph Newsleader. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.