Iowa City Stories

May 8, 2010

It’s About Time: Arrival of Health Reform

Filed under: IC Stories: Nessa, Health Care — Tags: , , — Kent Nessa @ 11:15 am

The Bill

The healthcare legislation, that was signed into law by President Obama back in March, couldn’t have come at a better time for many Americans.

Nearly 50 million Americans, and counting, didn’t have any form of health insurance. Harvard medical researchers have found that approximately 45,000 Americans die every year, because they don’t have any health care.

The new healthcare legislation includes such provisions as:

  • Not being turned down by physicians due to any pre-existing health conditions.
  • Physicals, and other preventive measures, will not only be more affordable, but will not be paid for out-of-pocket by the patient due to his/her health insurance/Medicare not including it in their coverage.
  • The freezing and, in some cases, lowering of premiums, to make health care more affordable.
  • Prescriptions available at a greatly reduced price.
  • College students can stay on their parents’ health insurance up until the age of 26.
  • Tax incentives for businesses that provide health coverage to their employees.

Those the Bill Impacts

That last point is one of the reasons why University of Iowa senior, Jake Shkolnick is excited about the new healthcare reform, “When I do get a job, I know I’ll have health insurance. If I get sick, they can’t take it away from me.”

Adding on to another benefit of the healthcare legislation, “[It] keeps costs down while keeping a better quality of life,” Shkolnick said. “I’ll [also] get ti stay on my parents’ health insurance.”

While Shkolnick is tremendously thrilled that reform is on its way, he realizes that the legislation still isn’t perfect. “I would certainly like to see a not-for-profit public option [and] even more tax breaks for low-income individuals if they can’t get it through their employer.”

Rick Spooner, 47 and an Iowa City resident, is all to familiar with the struggles that many Americans face. Spooner suffers from cerebral palsy and has avoided doctor visits in the past due to high costs of the visits. “I wish the free enterprise system would work, but it hasn’t worked out that way,” he said. “Somebody’s gotta do something.”

Spooner likes “reassurance of any insurance option. That you can afford a physician. As I get older, my medical condition could get worse. I can barely afford groceries now. I would prefer to pay for my own medical care [but] that isn’t the current case.”

Spooner uses Medicare and Medicaid as his means of paying for any medical costs. But those measures haven’t even been able to give Spooner the kind of health coverage he needs. “[They] can’t do preventive health procedures unless it’s an emergency. Last physical I took, I had to absorb costs.”

Uncertainty & Wanted Improvements

The lack of coverage by either Medicare and Medicaid has forced Spooner to not even see the physician when he needed. There have “been several times I would have gone into a physician just to feel better, but didn’t. A lot of existing health coverage won’t cover preventive medicine. Depends on the test too. [But] I don’t which tests are covered and which ones are not; so I don’t get them.”

Spooner also wishes the health care legislation was better to people with lower incomes. “My mobility may be affected when I get older. If I have to be in a wheelchair, who’s going to pay for that? What if I can’t do regular household duties? What if I can’t afford a maid to help me if I can’t do that when I’m 70?

“If I get a serious medical problem, I don’t know what Medicare and Medicaid will cover. The current system doesn’t remove the insecurities or absorb the costs for preventive medicine. They say preventive medicine works, but you can’t pay for them. I don’t know what else to do.”

Spooner realizes that the reform isn’t perfect, but he knows it’s a step in the right direction. “If I had one wish, it wouldn’t be to have $1 million, it’d be to go into any physician in the town I live in and not have to worry about medical costs with my income level.”


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