Supreme Court again declares Obamacare is the law of the land
For the second time, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. We breathe a sigh of relief that thousands of Summit County residents will continue to have access to health insurance.
Regardless of the ruling, all of the benefits of health care reform, including tax credits aimed at providing affordable options for all Coloradoans, would have continued to be available in our state.
How did this happen? As you know, Colorado has always had its own way of doing things. We try not to get bogged down in political jargon and partisan bickering. Our leaders recognize that when it comes to big decisions, they need to look beyond the divide of political affiliation and do what’s best for the citizens of Colorado.
That’s why when given the option to start a state-based exchange through the Affordable Care Act, Colorado had the foresight to create an independent health marketplace. Colorado’s leaders recognized an important fact about health insurance — it works. Uninsured people are sicker and more apt to die prematurely than their insured counterpart. Death risk appears to be 25 percent higher for people with certain chronic conditions who are not insured as compared to their insured counterparts. Uninsured families report medical bill problems at double or triple the rate of insured families and medical bills were found to be a contributing factor in 60 percent or more of bankruptcies.
For all these reasons and more it is vital that Colorado continues its successful health insurance marketplace. This includes the expanded additional coverage to working families and individuals who had previously been priced out of health insurance and unable to afford it for themselves and their families. To date, nearly half a million Coloradans have used these efforts to gain coverage they previously couldn’t afford through Connect for Health Colorado and expanded access for working families. Colorado’s marketplace and other health reform efforts have reduced the state’s uninsured rate from 17 percent to 11 percent. That’s the fifth largest drop in the uninsured rate among all states.
To be sure, there is still work to be done to reach health equity for all of our citizens. While Summit County continues to have unique challenges around the cost of health insurance, the marketplace will continue to be an option for many who could not otherwise access health insurance. FIRC will continue to assist in enrollment and navigate the process for the marketplace, CHP+ and other health insurance options.
Tamara Drangstveit is executive director of the Family and Intercultural Resource Center (www.summitfirc.org).
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