North Dakota needs ACA
Dr. Kim Krohn
I have three adult children. One of our sons was treated for cancer at age 19, one was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 14, and one has a back condition that started in his 20’s and will likely haunt him in the future.
They don’t sound very healthy, do they? But they are, mostly, and are productive members of society. But they have been warned repeatedly to never let their health insurance lapse, no matter what the cost, or they may not ever be able to regain coverage because of their pre-existing conditions. When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect, our family and many others were relieved that people with pre-existing conditions could not be prohibited from obtaining health insurance. This has been a huge burden lifted from our shoulders.
Inexplicably, our state is participating in a Texas lawsuit to strike down the ACA. I am nervous as our state has signed on to a legal action with the purpose of taking away ACA provisions that have directly benefited my family and others. Thousands of families in North Dakota will lose if the ACA is struck down. They will lose protections that guarantee health insurance eligibility when people have common conditions, like high blood pressure, behavioral health disorders, or diabetes. Between 2010 and 2014, when the ACA’s major health insurance reforms took effect, the share of Americans with pre-existing conditions who went uninsured all year fell by 22 percent–meaning 3.6 million fewer Americans were uninsured.
These are statistics from our own Department of Health and Human Services. The American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association and others all say that, “Striking down these provisions would be catastrophic and have dire consequences for many patients with serious illnesses.”
In addition to being a mother, I am also a family physician. I see every day the consequences of delayed care, which is a common consequence of not having health insurance coverage.
It is little wonder that 70% of Americans surveyed support ensuring coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. They share fears like mine of what will happen if my son’s cancer comes back, or my other son needs colon surgery. They need the peace of mind that their families’ health needs are covered no matter what has happened in the past. I would encourage our state officials to reconsider the law suit and work to continue to make health care available to North Dakotans.