Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Notes from the Health Reform and Advocacy Workshop

On October 16, 2013 I spent the day with 20 community leaders, learning about health reform and advocacy. We had an extra special guest, Joe Scarborough from the DE HIV Consortium, who shared some of his inside tips on advocacy. Below I'll share some of my visuals and notes from our discussion on the Myths of Health Reform. You can see all the visuals here.

Health Reform Myths - Busted

People are so confused by what they hear from friends, family, politicians and even the news. They have no idea what is fact or fiction. This list will help bust some of the most popular myths about the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.







Myth #1: Obamacare takes away freedoms.
Truth: Nobody is forced to buy insurance or do anything else. 
There is a requirement to have health insurance, but there are also several exemptions to this rule including financial hardship, religious objections, and not being required to file a federal tax return. If people choose not to sign up for insurance, they may face a penalty. You can learn more about the penalty here.



Myth # 2: It's a government takeover of health care.
Truth: Obamacare helps people afford private insurance purchased through online marketplaces from insurance companies.
 It is not "single payer" federal health insurance like our friends to the North in Canada have. And let's be frank, we already have "socialized medicine", we call it Medicare. 

Myth #3: Obamacare only helps "those people".
Truth: Everyone benefits from a more fair, affordable health care system. 
Most people will experience lower premiums (over time). Insurance companies will not be allowed to discriminate based on gender, age, or health status. No lifetime or annual coverage caps. Wealthy people (making over $200,000/year) will pay more in taxes.



Myth #4: Obamacare rations health care.
Truth: We already have rationed health care, the insurance companies do the rationing in terms of coverage limits, revoking coverage and preapproval policies.
The Affordable Care Act puts an end to discrimination, denials, and protects consumers by limiting out of pocket spending and deductibles. The law also requires all plans to have 10 essential health benefits which include hospitalization, prescription drugs, labs and tests, mental health  and substance abuse treatment, maternity care, and others.

Myth #5: Obamacare is bad for seniors.
Truth: Seniors have a number of protections, including limits on how much more than can be charged for insurance premiums. 
NO DEATH PANELS. The part of the law that some people referred to as "death panels" was actually a provision that would allow Medicare to pay for end of life counseling for seniors and their families. The counseling would have been provided by the patient's doctor, not some government panel. But due to all the controversy that provision was removed from the final law. 
There will be a reduction in the federal subsidy sent to insurance companies who provide the Medicare Advantage plans for seniors. This subsidy reduction may result in changes in benefits, but will not effect essential services. The federal government made this change to reduce spending in Medicare Advantage, which is more than the spending for traditional Medicare and Medicaid combined.



Myth #6: Obamacare means more taxes and higher premiums for everybody.
Truth: Most uninsured people will save money.
Some people, those who make over $200,000 will have to pay a bit more in taxes. Many people will see reductions in their premiums, thanks to getting a tax break to pay for insurance through the health insurance marketplaces. Women will no longer pay higher premiums than men, neither will sick people. Since most people get their insurance through their jobs (about half of Americans), they won't see much changes, except for the regular fluctuations in premiums from year to year. Here's some more info about the tax changes in the ACA.

Myth #7: Congress is exempt from Obamacare.
Truth: Congress has to buy insurance through the insurance marketplaces too. They don't get some secret fancy plans.

The morale of this story: check your facts. Good places to check are Factcheck.org and Politifact.com. And of course, this little old blog right here. 

And there's always our friends the Youtoons.


Nicole Johns is a senior health planner at the Office of HIV Planning. You can also find her on Google+.

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