An updated Affordable Care Act needed

Health care law has its benefits, but there are still glaring issues, like outdated coverage options.

by Ronald Dixon

In the United States, millions of Americans either go without health insurance or have subpar coverage. While the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act has mitigated much of the former, the landmark law has not done enough to improve the quality of health insurance for those whose employers provide their coverage.

Unfortunately, subpar, employer-sponsored health insurance has impacted me negatively. For the longest time, my father worked a blue-collar job that provided coverage, but the actual quality of the plan was rather dismal. Indeed, we had to pay much of my expenses in full.

This was especially the case with my back problems. Shortly before college, I began seeing a chiropractor due to sciatica (chronic lower back pains). Today, while I am not perfectly healed, my back is in much better shape than when I made my first appointment.

However, all of the costs of my chiropractic visits have been out-of-pocket, which has made me question why I have insurance at all. If one’s coverage plan doesn’t actually defer a portion of the costs of health care, why even have it?

Thankfully, my father recently transitioned to another blue-collar job, one that includes a much better health insurance plan. After his probationary period was finished, I received my health insurance and prescription cards in the mail.

The feeling was quite liberating. I no longer feel like I need to walk on eggshells. I can go to the clinic or the chiropractor without the pain or the guilt of extravagant medical costs. Shortly after obtaining the cards, I called my chiropractor and made a long-overdue appointment.

My intention is not to bash the Affordable Care Act, as I have benefited from some of the new regulations, particularly the policy that allows children to stay on their parents’ plan until the age of 26. Moreover, even if I am unable to obtain employee-sponsored health insurance once I turn this age, I will not be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions like my back problems.

The issue that I’m highlighting, though, involves the shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act. Sure, the law did outlaw some subpar options, but it still allows plans that were created prior to its passage in 2010. I happened to have one of these “grandfathered plans,” and the Affordable Care Act falls short by permitting these outdated coverage options.

The health care law isn’t perfect by any means, but as the Affordable Care Act continues to mature, members of Congress have the obligation to implement updates when necessary. Scrutinizing older, inadequate plans would be an excellent first step.