First, a reminder to all who are eligible to seek insurance coverage through Colorado Connect for Health, the sign up period began on Nov. 1 and will continue through Jan. 12 (in Colorado). Due to insurance company contracts being in place through 2018, subsidized insurance (and expanded Medicaid) is still available for lower income people for the coming year. So sign up for 2018 and then cross your fingers and pray a lot. Info: www.connectforhealthco.com
Regarding the reply of last week to my admittedly written in the heat of the moment opinion letter (not a news article) in response to the current federal administration refusal to pay subsidy payments to insurance companies, which in turn were used to pay for subsidies to those covered by the Affordable Care Act making between 200 and 400 percent of the poverty level. In Colorado it has been announced by Connect for Health that the rates for those covered through the exchange would raise an additional 6.9 percent on top of the previously announced 26 percent increase. A portion of the 26 percent increase, according to Colorado Public Radio reports, was due to the uncertainty of the subsidies remaining in place, not just rising health care costs. So, I think it is fair to say that the current administration has steadily made things worse and more expensive for anyone seeking health insurance.
In correcting points in the letter from last week; since the ACA has been partially implemented some 30 million additional Americans have received coverage by either the expansion of Medicaid or by access to subsidies (passed through private insurers) making insurance for lower income people more affordable. There have been some higher income people who have chosen to pay the tax penalty rather than buy admittedly very expensive non-subsidized, or under-subsidized, insurance but overall there has been a huge increase in the number of insured.
The subsidies do not subsidize insurance companies as the writer falsely claims but pay the companies for the mandated subsidies of insurance on the low end. It's a pass-through. The ACA has a strict limit on insurance industry profits, something the writer is apparently not aware of.
My saying that the end result (after the 2018 contracts expire) will be that people will possibly die and/or go bankrupt if they lose subsidized insurance is simply pointing out the very real results of a return to the previous status quo, if even that.
A few days after my original letter there was a bipartisan effort to reauthorize the subsidies but that was quickly shot down by more political rhetoric and it appears that unless we all rise up and demand a fix our "public servants" will continue to serve only their self-interests.
The writer and I do agree that the ACA has major flaws. The mentioned lack of choice and competition, particularly in rural areas, is one, as is the unreasonably high cost of insurance for those above the subsidy qualification income levels. No reasonable person could claim that the ACA as currently structured is sustainable. The ACA has gotten the poor insured, but has done nothing to address rapidly rising medical costs malpractice reform, and reining in the cost of prescription drugs. The ACA made insurance "real" but then failed to address rising costs.
My suggested solution, made by many others, to "run up the flagpole" is the one that nearly every other industrialized country in the world has already adopted, a single payer, government run system of socialized medicine that is a right and not a privilege. This would seem more thoughtful and realistic than suggesting a return to the failed methods of the past. Call a politician and demand it.
The seventh annual Eckert Crane Days, the annual viewing of the sandhill cranes migrating north from New Mexico through Colorado's West Slope, will be March 16-18. Representatives from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society (BCAS) will be at the viewing site east of Eckert at Fruitgrowers Reservoir, 9 to 11 a.m. each day, to answer questions and provide binoculars and spotting scopes.