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Diane Mufson: Benefits of health care reform will be evident

Nov. 13, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Without a doubt, the federal government goofed when it rolled out the online enrollment of the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as "Obamacare." Why our national government was unable to have a decently functioning product remains a mystery. Probably the National Security Agency technicians who know how to listen to German Chancellor Merkel's cellphone could have helped.

In any case, this snafu has given ammunition to those who oppose the concept of affordable health care. And yet, Americans have few serious complaints where governmental health care has been effectively implemented.

This thought came to mind a few weeks ago while my husband and I were in Boston to watch our grandson, Wyatt, play his final two high school soccer games. With a minute to go in the first game, our grandson set up to kick the ball, but then he and an opposing player collided. Unable to move one leg, Wyatt was helped off the field.

The rest of the story takes place in an emergency room in Boston, where we spent lots of family time while Wyatt's leg was placed in a cast and he obtained crutches.

Now even in bad situations, unless they are total disasters, one can usually find something good. So our family mulled over the day's positives, which included that both parents were at the game when the injury occurred, the ER wasn't overly busy, it was the end of Wyatt's soccer season, not the beginning, and that our grandson's family has excellent health insurance.

I commented that perhaps some of the other kids on the team wouldn't have had health insurance and would have ended up with medical bills they didn't anticipate. But, our son, Mike, reminded me that Massachusetts essentially has universal health care insurance, and estimates suggest that about 92 percent of people in the Bay State are covered.

Some folks may complain that their insurance rates are high or that they don't love their health care policy. Yet, we do not hear excessive negative squawking from people in Massachusetts regarding their health care insurance, which was put in place when Mitt Romney was the Republican governor of that state.

Medicare, the health insurance plan for those over the age of 65, and others with specified disabilities, is another governmental health plan. The famous quote from an "anti-Obamacare" individual to the effect "Keep your government hands off my Medicare" says tons.

We older folks love the idea that no matter what happens, we are covered by our health insurance. Granted, Medicare is not free, and depending on income and other factors, recipients continue to pay premiums, sometimes quite sizable.

But Medicare is available and often the envy of people in the upper 50s and lower 60s age range who find that they can no longer obtain health insurance through their employer or are no longer employed. By that age, almost everyone has at least one "pre-existing condition," which is not a factor in Medicare coverage.

Meanwhile, Kentucky and a few other states are now successfully tackling their own administration of affordable health care, illustrating that many folks need and want health insurance.

Eventually, the nation that developed the telephone, sent an astronaut to walk on the moon, gave us the "credit card" and made iPhones a universal concept will figure out how to successfully organize and administer the Affordable Care Act. It will not be easy or quick, but when it works, many folks will be happy and there will be few complaints.

Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist. She is a former citizen member of The Herald-Dispatch editorial board and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page. Her email is dwmufson@comcast.net.

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