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Opinion | The Obamacare legal challenge could leave you in the poor house

Red heart shape and medical stethoscope on blue background top view. Health care, medicare and cardiology concept.

Our insurance stinks. 

My wife and I have a 1-year-old daughter, and the family health insurance plan that we signed up for through her job — because it was the best of several bad choices — is, according to every person who handles insurance payments at every doctor’s office we’ve visited, “the worst we’ve ever seen.” 

We paid nearly $3,000 out of pocket a couple of weeks ago for ear tubes. 

The very apologetic office manager who handled that billing told us that it usually costs families around $150, assuming they haven’t met their deductible, in which case it costs them zero dollars. 

Prescription meds are also ridiculous under our insurance — to the point that we often tell pharmacy workers to ring it up without going through our insurance because that is somehow cheaper. A couple of days ago, a fairly common antibiotic for our daughter rang up at nearly $500 — with insurance. 

We have cussed this insurance plan repeatedly. We have complained to everyone who will listen, which now includes all of you who are reading this. 

But we also know two very important things: 1. We are fortunate enough that we can make those expensive payments without sacrificing other necessities, and 2. We would be REALLY screwed without this awful insurance. 

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Because that procedure for tubes for our daughter, it would have been more than $10,000 without insurance picking up part of the tab. And that antibiotic, it lists for nearly $1,000 without insurance. 

The trips to the pediatrician, the stops at the walk-in clinic for colds, the various prescription meds that my wife and I use throughout the year — all of that would be unmanageable without insurance. Even really crappy insurance. 

But we might soon face that reality. 

At least, if the Trump administration, led originally by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, gets its way in federal court. 

That’s where the Trump administration and several states, including Alabama and AG Steve Marshall, are challenging the various portions of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. And if they’re successful, all of the portions of the ACA that everyone loves — that’s right, everyone — will disappear. 

That includes protections for people with pre-existing conditions. That includes protections that forbid insurance companies from charging women more. That includes exceptions that allow children to stay on their parents’ insurance plans for extended time. That includes protections that prevent insurance companies from arbitrarily denying you coverage or refusing to cover certain illnesses. That includes protections that prevent insurance companies from capping your coverage. 

Instead, we’d go back to the way it was before: Where insurance companies could drop you the moment you got really sick, regardless of how much money you’d paid them over the years. Or they could decide that they would only cover this much of your cancer treatments. Or they could decide to boot your entire family off health insurance because y’all were just too costly. 

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All of those things happened prior to Obamacare on a daily basis. Thousands of good, hard-working Americans lost everything they owned and worked for because they or their children got sick one day. 

That’s not right. And we all know it. 

You can loathe Obamacare all you’d like for whatever reason you’d like, but there’s no denying that it provided a level of healthcare security that Americans hadn’t experienced in decades. 

For all of its flaws, the ACA did provide that peace of mind. And it could have provided much more had Republicans spent less time opposing it with no alternative plan and instead put forth some effort into bettering the ACA. But that’s life under Mitch McConnell, I suppose. 

It’s also worth noting that there is still no alternative plan. Despite Trump’s many, many, many absurd claims about this top secret healthcare plan that he would implement, he has yet to provide evidence of any plan that would cover a fraction of the people at the same prices. 

And so, here we are, poised on the verge of Obamacare being struck down by two Republican-appointed judges, with zero backup plans and with the health of an entire nation swinging in the balance.


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Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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