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Letter: Preparing for Obamacare

To the Editor:

Harry S. Truman remarked that the nation needed “universal health care.” That was 1948. He didn’t succeed in meeting that need. The Clintons made the next attempt, without success. It is remarkable that President Obama succeeded against the odds with the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

This legislation is complex, with a long timeline for implementation. Already in force are several well-known provisions, including a prohibition against rejecting insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and a requirement that family coverage extend to offspring 26 years or younger under parents’ insurance. All insurance policies are supposed to cover contraception costs. At an approximate cost of $1,500 per day for obstetric hospital care, the cost of contraception is an insignificant expense.

Coverage will be offered through an exchange that has been described as a marketplace for insurance companies. In the coming year, people will need to learn how the exchanges work and what will be offered. Having worked many years with low-income and needy people, I believe an effort must be made to reach out to them, rather than expecting them to get the information themselves.

States have responded in different ways to the opportunity to establish and run these exchanges, which the federal government has offered to financially assist. California, our largest state, has actively worked to set up an exchange. In New Hampshire, the Republican-controlled Legislature voted last year to not set up an exchange and to return any federal funds intended to help pay for the effort.

I recommend that Valley News readers inform themselves about the health care law and see how they may benefit. I also urge the New Hampshire Legislature to reverse course and actively work on setting up a state health care exchange. At a committee hearing this week, the insurance and health commissioners told a legislative oversight committee that they were recommending a middle course: entering into a partnership with the federal government whereby the state would regulate the insurance policies offered through the exchange, resolve complaints and provide consumer assistance to individuals and businesses.

Linn Duvall Harwell

New London