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Remember health insurance before the ACA? I do, and I paid the price . . .

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Bob Rackleff, candidate for U.S. Congress, Florida's 2nd District

My head starts to spin when I hear anti-Affordable Care Act fire breathers demand its full repeal “root and branch,” to return working families to the imagined glories of the pre-2010 status quo. I remember clearly what that was like, and the steep financial and emotional price I paid as a self-employed father of three children in the 1990s. Compared to millions of American working families, I got off easy.

Before passage of the ACA in 2010, the health insurance industry charged ever-increasing premiums and co-payments, denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, cut off its sickest customers with annual or lifetime caps, and refused to renew (or simply cancelled) coverage of many working families with no explanation. It often took years of litigation to get many of them to pay what they clearly owed.

It was especially bad if you had no employer-provided insurance and needed an individual policy — even if you were healthy with no chronic problems.

Self-employed for 27 years, I had to rely on one of those individual policies in the 1990s for me and my three children – with Time Insurance Co. (later, Assurant Health), a subsidiary of Fortis Inc. I was a consultant for numerous corporate clients then, with no fringe benefits, and Time Insurance seemed to have the most affordable individual policies.

It was junk insurance.

First, I had to pass a physical exam, in case there was some pre-existing condition that would disqualify me from coverage (I passed). Then my policy had a 20 percent co-payment and a lifetime cap of $1 million. It excluded pregnancy coverage (being a woman was a pre-existing condition), along with numerous other exclusions.

And the company imposed premium increases that leaped higher every year. Mine went up 43 percent in two years – and was that low only because I increased my annual deductible to $10,000.

In other words, I was buying catastrophic coverage only, to prevent my personal bankruptcy if some terrible illness or injury happened. Fortunately, we managed to stay relatively healthy and avoid major expenses.

Our pediatrician charged reasonable fees for routine services, for which I was thankful. I continued taking my children there into their college years, well past the usual age for them to begin seeing doctors for grownups. They complained bitterly, as teenagers are famous for doing. (They’re much better now.)

I paid our routine expenses out of pocket and, in fact, never filed a claim. So I didn’t see one dime of the thousands of dollars I spent annually for premiums.

Plus, I never even had the peace of mind that Time Insurance would take care of me if something terrible happened. Time and similar companies had a sorry record of wrongdoing that involved lengthy court challenges by policyholders and numerous fines by regulators.

(Assurant Health left the health insurance business in 2015. Good riddance.)

I finally achieved that peace of mind when I turned 60 and began with Tricare health insurance for military members, which was comprehensive and free. I earned that coverage because of 22 years as an enlisted sailor and officer in the Navy, mostly in the active reserves. (Retired reservists like me have to keep breathing until age 60 to get Tricare and other benefits.)

Thankfully, my children and I escaped serious injury or illness during those earlier years, but millions of American working families did not. Their stories were heartbreaking.

So when I hear Congressman Dunn and Speaker Ryan condemn the ACA with bogus facts, I remember what we had before – when even so-called “ensured” working families had shoddy coverage that could mean tragic financial and health results.

In fact, Congressman Dunn voted in May for the RyanCare bill that would have denied coverage to some 63,000 residents of Florida’s 2nd Congressional District now covered by the ACA — and turn back the clock.

Most galling, Dunn, a Panama City physician for over three decades, said in voting for that bill said, “I’m doing this for my patients.” He really said that.

Are there problems with the ACA?

Of course there are, and many residents of District 2, especially small business owners, told me their legitimate complaints about increases in their health insurance premiums and similar difficulties.

I get it.

I also know that we can fix these problems without destroying the progress we’ve made. But that won’t happen as long as the mindless, bogus attack on the ACA continues.


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How soon they forget.

Higher prices... fewer choices... nazi mandate to ins corps... big pharma largess... equipment tax... etc.

What's not to like?

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The current insurance is junk since you want to toss that phrase out there. It's wealth redistribution at a minimum (socialism). Unless you are very poor, Obamacare insurance is too costly to use. The premiums are more per month than an average worker (with a family) can afford and the deductibles with the plans will empty out the rest of what is left of any savings you think you can muster. Obamacare has slowed the economy by taking disposable income they might have elsewhere to spend and forces them to buy a product they can't use or cannot afford to use on their best day. This savings that DoucheX likes to refer to as the national debt further erodes our economy. Who knows how well the American economy might have blossomed without the unrighteous tax called Obamacare? Maybe the economy and stock market are further improved by obama not nationalizing 1/6 of the economy for political gain? Obamacare in its current state and form is unsustainable. Insurance companies are leaving the program in droves. Fewer and fewer docs take it due to the paltry fees it pays. So, why have insurance you can afford, can't afford to use, or is worthless ? Then if you have come to that conclusion and refuse to buy, we make you apt a penalty? That's asinine.

panhandler wrote:How soon they forget.

And they say elephants, and weasels, never forget.

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Health insurance was out of control and hurting average Americans every damn day!
The insurance companies were screwing the hell out of us, and still will if we let them.
Anyone who want's to go back to that is either an idiot, a republican or both!

Medicare for ALL!

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