Niagara Gazette

Columns

September 25, 2013

BRADBERRY: How'd we get so sick? Will we get well?

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Yet, in spite of our unhealthy condition, the Affordable Care Law, which when fully implemented could help provide some desperately needed help to our desperately unhealthy residents and millions like us around the country, is still being hotly contested within the hallowed halls of Congress; meanwhile, we seem to be getting fatter, sicker and more confused every day while the debate rages on.

Fortunately, in the two years since inception, the Law has already begun to make significant beneficial changes for millions of Americans according to one analysis available at whitehouse.gov:

• 2.5 million more young adults have health insurance on their parent’s plan.

• In 2010 and 2011, over 5.1 million seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare have saved over $3.1 billion on prescription drugs. These savings include a one-time $250 rebate check to seniors who hit the “donut-hole” coverage gap in 2010, and a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs in the donut hole in 2011. And everyone with Medicare can get key preventive services like mammograms and other cancer screening tests for free.

• Insurance companies can no longer drop your coverage when you get sick because of a mistake on your application, put a lifetime cap on the dollar amount of coverage you can receive or raise your premiums with no accountability.

• Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition. And in 2014, discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition will be prohibited.

Of course there is a direct correlation between poverty and health; there is no getting around that not-so-small matter. Consider the Niagara County Department of Health Community Assessment findings, for example:

With barely more than 48,000 residents, in Niagara Falls our median income of households is barely $30,000 with unemployment as chronic as our health, hovering near 9-10 percent and much higher, possibly more than double the median in some highly distressed neighborhoods.

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