It is no secret we Americans live in a throwaway society.
Over 40% of the food produced and purchased in this country goes to waste. In fact, food makes up 25% of the country’s total garbage. Each family throws out about $600 of meat, vegetables, fruit and grain products each year. Americans buy cars every 3-5 years and our car manufacturers now enjoy record profits due to consumers buying cars with features such as internet connectivity and automatic braking. We donate clothes to charity with price tags still on the garments. The average credit card debt is $16K to $24K per person and in our lifetime, each of us will generate 64 tons of waste (4-6 pounds of garbage per person each day).
And now in the ultimate display of waste, our new government is moving toward repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Affordable Care Act has brought needed health care to over 20 million Americans. But before we throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water, consider whether this is really a good idea or another flagrant display of waste at the expense of all Americans.
Before ACA, insurance companies could kick out subscribers, people who paid premiums for years, because they became too expensive to maintain. Before ACA, people were denied health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Now, each Plan under ACA must offer Essential Health Benefits that include substance abuse counseling and treatment, prescription drug coverage and mental health care. Now, there are no annual caps if you become sick, you won’t run out of benefit coverage; and those with older children, who have yet to obtain jobs and benefits, can stay under their parent’s health plan to age 26. Under ACA, insurers are now prohibited from denying health care services to subscribers who became sick or made a mistake on their application. The ACA also requires 80-85% of customers’ premiums to actually go toward the cost of health care services and most importantly, before the implementation of ACA, 26,000 to 45,000 people died for lack of health care coverage in 2010.
Are there flaws in the ACA—absolutely! Ask any health care professional who is on-the-ground and we will tell anyone who cares to listen what can be improved with the ACA. But throw it out? Repeal the ACA? Start all over after the almost 20 million health care workers in our country have labored for six long years to make health care more meaningful and accessible—I think not. The tens of millions of dollars required to create another health care program would be the ultimate in waste with no guarantee that this new health care program would be as good as what we threw out the window.
The ACA is not a pawn in a political game or a disposable, throwaway program. The ACA is a lifeline for millions of Americans.
“CEO’s Corner: An Update from Fran” is a regular feature of Adelante, our monthly newsletter. Please check our Adelante archives for additional columns and keep an eye out for featured ones appearing in this blog!