Whether there’s a government shutdown or not today, there’s still going to be a kick-off to the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges this week because that part of the act is already funded and not subject to a political stunt like a temporary closure of the government.
In other words, Oct. 1 is still an important date, especially if you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans who are uninsured. Today, you can begin going to the public exchanges in your region and see what kind of plans private for-profit insurance companies can offer you.
Now does that sound like socialized medicine to you?
The Affordable Care Act is also known as “Obamacare” by folks like those birthers who are still upset about the president’s birth certificate. One thing they do know, however, is that Obama is the father of fair and inclusive health care for Americans, and they dislike that almost as much as the fact that the president was actually born in the U.S.
The Affordable Care Act allows you to begin choosing a bonafide health plan within your budget that will protect you once coverage goes into effect in Jan. 2014. If you don’t have insurance, it will seem like a godsend. And there are no penalties nor denials due to any pre-existing conditions. Those are perhaps the biggest positives that often get lost in the political rhetoric.
Then again, maybe there are really 17 million positive reasons for the ACA — that’s the number of kids who have asthma and diabetes who can no longer be denied health care.
The actual numbers of people who will be able to get coverage is staggering just in my state, California. According to the Asian Americans Advancing Justice, six million Californians of all kinds are uninsured, and of those, about 600,000 are Asian-Americans who could benefit once the Affordable Care Act begins.
But if the idea of all this going into play with the coincidence of a government shutdown on Oct. 1 makes your head hurt, relax.
If you already have insurance through your work or have coverage privately, then the Oct. 1 date really has no relevance whatsoever.
If you are insured already, you don’t have to do a thing.
If that’s you, then you can concentrate on Oct. 1 being another important date in terms of diversity.
October begins Filipino American History Month, as designated by the Filipino American National Historical Society.
But most will be happy, the month coincides with the start of the public health exchanges. At least 14 percent of the nearly 3 million Filipino Americans in the U.S. are estimated to be without health insurance.
The ACA makes it so being covered under a health plan is within reach. And that’s worth celebrating.
Emil Guillermo is an award-winning journalist who writes for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (www.aaldef.org/blog) Like him on Facebook at Emil Guillermo Media. https://www.facebook.com/emilguillermo.media