U.S. Representative Tim Bishop visited the Hamptons Preventive Health and Sustainable Technology Expo in Sag Harbor on Saturday to address concerns of his constituents about the Affordable Care Act and help ease the transition and ongoing implementation.
Conceding that the bill was controversial and the phase-in can be somewhat rocky, Mr. Bishop urged some 30 people in attendance to not get frustrated. “I’m certain that three, four, five years from now, people are going to be looking back on the Affordable Care Act in the same way that people now look at Medicare,” he said.
The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ObamaCare, was passed in 2010 in an attempt to overhaul the country’s health care system, driving down the cost of health insurance premiums while increasing the numbers of Americans covered by health insurance.
Mr. Bishop said he went back and looked at the Congressional Record for what people were saying about Medicare in 1963 and 1964, and his findings confirmed what he thought. “Word for word, the arguments of government takeover of health care and socialized medicine, you can’t use your own doctor and being denied coverage—it was all said,” he said. “Guess what? None of that happened. If you were to go to seniors now and say we need to take away Medicare because of these things, there would be a revolt in this country. It is the most popular benefit we as a government give anyone in this country.”
Saying that already phased-in elements of the act are incredibly popular and working well, Mr. Bishop emphasized other aspects, such as children being able to stay on their parents’ plan until the age of 26 and the “inability of insurance companies to cancel a policy when someone has the poor sense to get sick and file a claim.”
Looking forward, Mr. Bishop stated: “The real meat of health care reform goes live on October 1, when the exchanges, which will allow people to shop online for policies, much like an Expedia.com does for travel, open up.”
He noted that New York State is far along in terms of getting their exchange up and running, which he sees as an encouraging sign.
“The early pricing in the exchanges are reflecting precisely what those of us who supported health care reform thought would happen,” the congressman said. “The open and transparent competition on the basis of price and service will drive down the cost of policies.”
Mr. Bishop predicted that people entering into the individual market will see on average the cost of their premiums go down 50 percent and small business owners who provide coverage to their employees will see an average drop in price of about 35 percent.
“Despite what the detractors might say, this is exactly how a free market operates,” said Mr. Bishop, a Democrat. “Comparison shopping drives down price, because people are competing.”
In concluding his remarks, Mr. Bishop explained the importance of making everyone purchase health care as two-fold. First and foremost, the congressman said, is keeping people healthy. The second point, he added, was about keeping prices down for everyone.
“There is no magic about how this works. Insurance companies make money when people buy policies and don’t make claims,” he said. “That’s their business model. When people aren’t required to buy policies, only people who are sick and are likely to make claims buy policies. But the cost of insuring an entire population goes down when it is spread over a much larger risk-pool.”