Health Care: Parsing the Words

What Republicans aim for in “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act is something very different from what the Act has accomplished: insuring 20+ million more Americans than previously had access to our insurance-based system of health care. Here’s what Republicans want to do:

House Republicans, responding to criticism that repealing the Affordable Care Act would leave millions without health insurance, said on Thursday that their goal in replacing President Obama’s health law was to guarantee “universal access” to health care and coverage, not necessarily to ensure that everyone actually has insurance.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/15/us/politics/paul-ryan-affordable-care-act-repeal.html?emc=edit_th_20161216&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=51947848

Read the above excerpt carefully, because the language is important. “Access” and “coverage” are very different things. Theoretically, any of us now has access to a Rolls Royce or a ride on an Elon Musk rocket to the moon. But if I can’t afford those things, my access is meaningless.

To reverse the concept, both rich and poor have access to spending the winter sleeping on a steam grate or moving from shelter to shelter. But only the poor will ever exercise that right of access.

The same is true with health care. If I, as an aging person who will need more health care than I did in my 20’s, can’t afford coverage, or if my needs bump up against annual or lifetime limits, or if my access is curtailed by pre-existing conditions, or if I as a female am charged more than a male of comparable age because of actuarial statistics on life span, my “access” doesn’t mean much.

The bottom line is that Democrats see access to medical care as a public health issue, and Republicans see it as a commodity available, like any other commodity, to those who can afford it.

The Trump cabinet thus far is estimated to have a combined net worth of 14 billion dollars. Need I venture a guess where their sympathies on the right to health care lie?

2 thoughts on “Health Care: Parsing the Words

  1. for Phyllis: It’s hard for me to believe that a major political party doesn’t think that health care for the poor, the elderly the vulnerable is important. But there it is.

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