Paul Begala: My family signed up for Obamacare since it provided better benefits, lower price
He says law provides greater security for folks with pre-existing conditions
Begala says the GOP predictions of doom from Obamacare haven't materialized
He says more Americans are likely to approve of Obamacare as time goes on
Editor’s Note: Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and CNN political commentator, was a political consultant for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992 and was counselor to Clinton in the White House. He is a consultant to the pro-Obama Super PAC, Priorities USA Action. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
I signed up for health care through the Affordable Care Act last week.
I did so for one reason and one reason only: it was a good deal for my family. In fact, it was a better deal than we were getting before the ACA.
The website, which received so much (well-deserved) negative publicity when it failed to launch, is now easy-peasy. The options it generated for us were more clearly delineated than those we’d been given in the past by a private-sector insurance broker. The benefits were plainly spelled out, as were the deductibles and co-pays. We are fortunate in that we do not need subsidies, and yet the Obama exchange still found us a better deal than we had found on our own.
Let me be clear: this was not a political statement. This is my family’s health. If I got the best care by going through Sarah Palin’s website I would do so. Besides, the business decisions in our family are made by my wife, who has both an MBA and a Masters in Public Administration. I haven’t had a checkbook since the Reagan administration, but because this decision was so personal and consequential, we made it as a team.
In the end, it was not a tough choice. On the one hand, we got better coverage under the ACA. On the other, it cost less. I’m not exactly a believer in Republican talking points, but even I was surprised at how obviously superior my choices are under the new law. I knew there were no death panels, and I figured a plan originated by Newt Gingrich, the Heritage Foundation and Mitt Romney couldn’t truly be Marxist. But I hadn’t taken the time to do the math to figure whether the ACA would be a better deal for me. It is.
The federal health exchange served me better than the private sector had. So I signed up. My doc is still my doc. My insurance company is still a private corporation - not (gasp!) a government agency. (Although I’d sign up for Medicare today if they’d let me; the government-run health insurance program for seniors is terrific.) Bottom line is, the ACA works, period.
And here’s the beauty part: even if you choose not to use the exchanges at all, you stand to benefit from the Affordable Care Act. If you or someone in your family has a pre-existing condition, you are a winner under the ACA. Ditto if, God forbid, you have an illness or an accident that would have maxed-out your pre-Obamacare coverage limit: the ACA outlaws coverage caps. If you’re a young adult who can now be covered on your parent’s plan till age 26, or a Medicare patient who needs preventive care or has fallen into the Donut Hole, you come out ahead too.
All of those rights – and more – would disappear if the Republicans repealed the Affordable Care Act. The Republican-controlled House has voted 54 times to do just that.
Despite spending millions on ads, the right is losing the debate. The latest Kaiser Family Fund poll shows that, even though the new health care law is still not popular, 59% of Americans want to keep the ACA as-is or modify it slightly. Only 18% want to repeal it altogether, and another 11% want to repeal it and replace it with a GOP alternative.
As more and more Americans actually deal with health reform firsthand, as they actually receive new rights and new benefits, and as the parade of right-wing horribles fails to materialize, I suspect support for the ACA will continue to grow.
As one of the millions of Americans who benefits from the ACA, I just want to say thanks, President Obama. And thank you, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and everyone in Congress who voted for the Affordable Care Act. (Obviously, each person’s individual situation is unique. It may well be that some folks will not share my positive experience. But you have nothing to lose by checking it out.)
Thanks also to all the Republicans who voted for it. Wait, there weren’t any. That’s okay, I suppose. There were no Republicans who voted for the Clinton Economic Plan in 1993, and it led to balanced budgets and 23 million new jobs. The Republicans of that time predicted doom and depression if the Clinton Economic Plan passed. Their successors are predicting the same about the Affordable Care Act. And they’re going to look just as foolish in the eyes of history.
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