Aug. 28, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Let's See How Obamacare Plays Out Over the Long Haul | Commentary

Thereís a famous saying: Never judge a book by its cover. The same motto can be used for the Affordable Care Act, launched a few weeks ago.

Yes the website had issues and yes the administration had ample time to set up its launch. That being said, as with any complex and wide-ranging startup implementation, Obamacare is expected to have technical issues. We have encountered them with building our managed care organization. All startup companies do.

Letís give the Affordable Care Act a chance to take effect before making a judgment. Yes we can criticize every minor misstep. Or we can take the longer picture view and see how the ACA has been implemented after a longer period of time. It will likely take 12 months until Obamacare has a solid operating rhythm, but thatís a short amount of time for the massive benefits it will have on the lives of currently underinsured Americans.

Before the Affordable Care Act became law, our nationís health care system was discriminatory to both lower- and middle-wage workers. The true cost to live exceeded the threshold for income to qualify for Medicaid. People working in lower- and middle-wage jobs made too much income to qualify. Most employers for those jobs couldnít afford to pay health insurance premiums for them (even if they did cover a substantial portion, many of the employees could not afford the remainder of the premium).

Compounding the issue of affordability was the consistent upward trend of the actual cost of health care delivery, which had been driving a consistent upward trend in health care insurance premiums.

The Affordable Care Act is changing the health care industry in a positive way. The health insurance industry will now be subject to federal regulations, which will assure that everyone is treated fairly and equally. Rates will be monitored to make sure that most of the premiums you pay will go toward providing health care and not insurance company profits and administrative expenses, such as multimillion-dollar insurance company executive salaries.

No longer will health insurance companies be able to charge exorbitant rates, deny or limit coverage, and pick and choose the healthiest while making life difficult for those with debilitating conditions.

As the government and its public and private partners focus on execution, small-business owners and eligible Americans should become students of the new laws so they can optimize their utilization. There will be more individualized health care for more folks as health care for all is expected to improve the innovation of physicians, hospitals and insurance companies by encouraging and rewarding better health care outcomes, more home and community based medicine, and less unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

Thomas Duncan is CEO of Trusted Health Plan (District of Columbia) Inc.

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