Special Report: Obamacare (Part 1) 

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau 

September 26, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO – 68-year old Luz Baron is one of about 44 million people in America who have no health insurance. Why is healthcare not her priority? She simply can’t afford it. She only earns a few hundred dollars a month as a domestic helper and she said her employers, through the years, never provided her healthcare coverage. 

“I have nothing. My employers did not take care of me,” she lamented. 

Baron feels fortunate that she gets free care for her chest pains at the South of Market Health Clinic. This clinic is just among the many in the country that get funding from the government to provide medical care to anyone. 

Cristina Sprague, the clinic’s nurse practitioner, said President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act or Obamacare has provided them more money to reach out to people like Baron, who need healthcare desperately

“Whether they’re insured or not, we still will provide care to those patients who come to our door,” Sprague said.

Obamacare’s primary goal is to make healthcare a priority by making health coverage more secure for the 250 million Americans who already have healthcare, whether through private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, and by offering an array of quality, affordable private health insurance for the millions who are uninsured. 

Obamacare also pledges to protect people from abusive practices by insurance companies. Under the law, insurance companies will no longer have the power to cancel a policy because the patient has cancer or diabetes or simply because she is a woman. 

“You cannot be denied services even if you have pre-exisiting conditions,” said Sprague. 

Obamacare has also provided funding to health providers, so they can electronically file their patients’ records. The goal is to improve the quality of their care. “The purpose is to give the providers more time with the patient. Hopefully, it actually cuts down time for writing and documenting,” said Sprague. 

But even with all its promises to help people in America, Obamacare continues to have strong opposition in the Republican-led House, which recently voted, for the 42nd time, to repeal or undermine it. 

Filipino Republican leader Rudy Asercion agrees with his party that Obamacare should be defunded. Obamacare would cost taxpayers 1.1 trillion over the next ten years. 

”We cannot afford this. How are we going to pay for this?”, Asercion pointed out.

While Obamacare promises to lower healthcare costs, the Republican said it will do the opposite. They cited a study by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which project that the overall national health spending would increase an average of six percent a year over the next decade.

Although Obamacare states that insurance companies are no longer able to raise insurance premiums for the sake of profit, Asercion said some insurance companies are still able to raise premiums on unsuspecting people. 

Asercion also finds it unconstitutional that people are forced to get insured, no matter the cost. The rule requires almost everyone to have coverage beginning 2014 or pay a tax penalty.

“Where does it say in the Constitution that the government can force you to buy something and if you don’t buy it, you’re going to be fined? That doesn’t sit well with a lot of people,” said Asercion.

Even as Republicans fight to defund it, the White House is focused on getting people to support Obamacare. The president reminded people that Obamacare is a crucial step to improving the economy. A new study by the administration show that when uninsured Americans begin enrolling in Obamacare’s new Healthcare Exchanges on October 1, most people, 95% are offered premiums that are 16% lower. 

The government said the uninsured will have a choice of 53 different plans on average. The more choices people have, officials said the more affordable it is, especially for working-class Americans.

For more information, you may contact Henni Espinosa at henni_espinosa@abs-cbn.com.

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