|Update: Since the publication of this article the Supreme Court released it's decision upholding the indvidual mandate as a tax. You can read about the UCC denominational response here: UCC leaders laud Supreme Court for upholding Obama health-care law|
I recently read a story in Kaiser Health news that told of a young mother of two who has major health troubles but no insurance. Apparently she was asked about the new national health care law (now known as the Affordable Care Act) to which she replied, “What new law?” “I’ve not heard anything about that.”
Although she will be affected by the Supreme Court’s imminent decision on the new national health care law, the woman was not aware of it. Actually, her not knowing about the law is not as strange or odd at it seems. According to a Pew research study, there are many Americans who do not know what the benefits of the law are, or what’s contained in the law, or know that there is even a health care law. Therein may lie some of the negative debate regarding the law – we simply do not know enough about it or we have not availed ourselves of the information to learn more about the law. For more information about the Law visit www.healthcare.gov
Over 80 million people in America have already benefitted from the health care law. The most popular benefits of the law to date include: health plans cannot limit or deny coverage for a child younger than age 19 simply because the child has a “pre-existing condition”; preventive services are now covered without your having to pay a copayment or meet your deductible; insurance companies can no longer deny you coverage because you have a pre-existing condition; young adults can remain on their parent’s health care plans until age 26; insurers may not cancel coverage when you get sick; improved prescription drug coverage and preventive benefits for seniors and people with disabilities who rely on Medicare. Striking down the law may take away some of these benefits and protections.
At the heart of the controversy is a ruling in the law that would require most Americans to have health insurance in 2014 or pay a penalty that starts with 1% of their income or pay a specified dollar amount that begins at $95.00. Simply stated, the rule is designed to have everyone get coverage before they get sick so that their costs are not shifted on to everyone else. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 6 percent of the total U.S. population (19.2 million residents) could be subject to penalties for not purchasing health insurance in 2014.
Whether or not the law is upheld or struck down we still need quality, affordable and accessible health care for all in this country. We will still have 50 million Americans who are uninsured and we will still have a health care system that costs too much and leaves out too many. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.” Whether or not the law is upheld or struck down, we still have miles to go before we sleep to ensure that the injustices of health care are eliminated.
The United Church of Christ has 5,194 churches throughout the United States. Rooted in the Christian traditions of congregational governance and covenantal relationships, each UCC setting speaks only for itself and not on behalf of every UCC congregation. UCC members and churches are free to differ on important social issues, even as the UCC remains principally committed to unity in the midst of our diversity.