By Rep. Darrio Melton
When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2009, some protections went into effect immediately, while others were phased in over time.
Many of the immediate changes to health care law affected what many believed to be discriminatory practices by insurance companies: charging women more than men, refusing coverage because of pre-existing conditions and establishing lifetime caps on how much the company would pay out.
Since Obamacare was passed by Congress, signed by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court, we would expect insurance companies to be well-versed in how this law will affect their business.
Yet despite these changes, I’ve heard a number of stories over the past four years from individuals who were not fully aware of their rights under the Affordable Care Act. Most people don’t know that they can get covered.
Were you denied insurance coverage due to a pre-existing condition, such as diabetes, mental illness, high cholesterol, cancer or a physical disability?
You can’t be denied or charged more because of a pre-existing condition. You can get covered.
Were you in an accident or have a health condition that required extensive medical treatment?
Your lifetime cap has been lifted. You can get covered.
Is it difficult to afford an individual insurance plan, but you don’t qualify for Medicaid?
You can qualify for subsidies to help afford an individual plan. You can get covered.
With health care exchanges open across America, it’s time to learn our rights so we can get covered.
I don’t think health care should be a luxury afforded to a privileged few. I don’t think corporations should be able to tell us who is an asset and who is a liability when it comes to writing coverage plans. And I don’t think that insurance companies should be allowed to refuse coverage to Americans.
I think every man, woman and child deserves access to affordable, high-quality health insurance.
Thanks to President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, now we can all get covered with the quality insurance that Americans deserve and can afford.
Representative Darrio Melton is a Democrat from Selma. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010.