Have a healthy attitude about Affordable Care Act

Forget about the political shenanigans in Washington, D.C. Here in Washington state we are about to enter the promising new world created by the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), which will provide health care coverage opportunities for millions of Americans who now are uninsured or under-insured.

This is a good thing, despite all the distortions and misdirection coming from the “Obamacare” haters who are pushing a dishonest political agenda that has nothing to do with your well-being.

It’s complicated and imperfect, with much yet to be resolved. But the ACA will be part of our lives and we all should learn as much as we can about how it will affect us and our families.

In our state, unlike many others, information and assistance will be readily available for anyone who needs it. For more details on how to learn about the act and take advantage of it, see our story in the Health & Wellness supplement in this issue of the Methow Valley News. We’ll be offering more coverage in the near future.

Other resources abound. The Seattle Times recently published a 16-page special section on all aspects of the ACA. It’s available on the newspaper’s website, www.seattletimes.com. In it, Carol Ostrom – the Times’ extraordinary health reporter – offers some important perspective:

“Despite what you may have heard, Obamacare doesn’t change the world as we know it. There will still be hospitals, and doctors and insurance companies. Employers will still offer insurance to workers. Brain surgeons will still make a lot of money. The ACA isn’t communism or socialism, and the ‘free’ market will still be alive and kicking – perhaps more vigorously than it’s done in the past. In fact, some predict we’ll find that more choices, more ‘shopping’ and more decisions aren’t really what we all want, after all.”

The ACA’s provisions don’t just affect individuals. They have implications for businesses as well. While the requirements for companies with more than 50 employees have been delayed for a year, there are still potential tax breaks available for smaller firms that offer health insurance for their workers – and the Methow Valley is full of companies with fewer than 50 employees.

Like any new program affecting a lot of people, the ACA will be impacted by some initial confusion. To make the best decisions, be a proactive consumer, just as you would with any other important choice. Help is available. Take advantage of it.

–Don  Nelson