DECATUR-- Since the controversial Affordable Care Act was upheld by the Supreme Court this summer, many people have taken a solid stance on it, one way or another. The consensus seems to be that either you love it because it helps out people in need, or you hate it because you feel it infringes on your constitutional rights.
Ken Smithmier, President of Decatur Memorial Hospital points out that both of those views are right… to an extent. At an Affordable Care Act presentation put on by Smithmier and DMH, he explained the good and the bad of the bill.
Before delving into the thick of the bill he explained why healthcare costs are so high in the first place. He says that some of the expense comes from the unhealthy lifestyles of many Americans.
“Disease like obesity and adult onset diabetes are huge problems in this society and in almost all cases that disease goes away with a healthier lifestyle. The problem with diseases like these is that they often carry other problems along with them, like high blood pressure. Those are huge costs, and they are self inflicted wounds.”
In addition to the preventable diseases, he says the number of people who don’t pay for their hospital bills is also higher than ever before. The treatment isn’t free and the payment has to come from somewhere.
“Everybody has to recognize that it isn’t free care. It may be at no cost to that particular individual, but the rest of society has those costs spread amongst them.”
The businesses and individuals most affected by the mandatory healthcare will be those large businesses that employ over 200 full-time employees and who pay an average salary to each individual that is above an average of 50k a year. Smithmier says that many companies that will be affected by the bill have already done the math and have figured out that they can save money by offering employees cash to find their own private insurance or just eating the government implemented penalty.
“If there is a big employer right now who is, let’s say, spending $10,000 a year to support their insurance premiums for their employees and they drop their plan… they will pay a $2,000 fine, but at the same time they are saving $8,000 per person.”
There is some good, he says, to go along with some of the doom and gloom.
“It’s not all bad… it takes away lifetime limits on insurance coverage, which is a good thing. The idea of keeping your child on your insurance while they are in school, absolutely. People shouldn’t be kicked off an insurance plan because they have severe, long-term, health issues.”
Smithmier went on to say that the good parts of healthcare reform have been somewhat overshadowed by the lies and fallacies that the politicians have given to us.
“My problem with this bill is that it is not financially stable and the politicians are not being completely honest with us. We need to take an honest look at this bill and agree that we need certain things, but we also need to realize that we need to pay for them.”
He closed out the presentation by saying that healthcare reform will be the law of the land for quite a while, so instead of fighting, everyone would be best served by doing the proper research and getting their businesses ready.