Ask a handful of people in our community what keeps them up at night, and I bet many will give you the same answer: health care. Access and affordability have been as issue here for many years.
This week is the nine-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act — ACA. Since its enactment, our uninsured rate has dropped by nearly half. Members of the middle class are now eligible for tax credits to offset premium costs. Those with preexisting conditions no longer dread rejection for treatments ranging from the routine to the critical. For almost a decade now, residents of Routt County been able to register online for health insurance.
Generally speaking, the law has done what it set out to do.
However, barriers to coverage still exist. Prices remain a concern throughout our community, where the cost of living is already sky high. We have some of the highest premiums in the state and we don’t have meaningful choice in insurance plans. Some would say this is a reason to scrap the ACA, but that would make affordability and choice even worse.
The ACA has given us protections that make moving forward with reforms easier. It has also provided the foundation for programs like Rep. Dylan Roberts’ Public Option, which the State Legislature is currently considering. This law takes aim at the cost of insurance by increasing competition in counties with few plans and providers like ours.
There’s also the practical consideration of preserving current benefits. Under the ACA, Medicaid eligibility has grown by 40 percent in Colorado. Slashing the ACA would be catastrophic for all those who obtained coverage under the Medicaid expansion. Moreover, studies show that the cost of insurance would balloon at an even higher rate if we did away with the ACA now.
As someone frustrated by the lack of provider choices and exorbitant premiums, I understand the desire to upend everything and start anew. Trust me, I know coverage is getting more expensive. My family pays $36,000 a year for a family of four and our only choice is Anthem.
But we can’t afford to throw away the good things we have. Too many people depend on the ACA’s protections. Let’s make the ACA better by supporting Rep. Dylan’s efforts to ensure that we in Routt County have choice and affordability for our health care.