Jonathan Oberlander: Fear-mongering

July 12, 2014 

Stephen Parente’s July 7 Point of View piece “ Future bleak for Obamacare” distorted the state of health care reform. United Healthcare recently announced it will enter the North Carolina insurance exchange, hardly a sign the marketplace is, as Parente alleged, about to implode.

Parente failed to mention any of the Affordable Care Act’s notable successes: 357,000 North Carolinians have signed up for coverage through the new marketplace. Families can now keep their children on insurance policies until age 26. Women are guaranteed access to coverage for maternity care – coverage that private insurers often excluded in the past. Insurers can no longer deny coverage to or discriminate against persons with pre-existing medical conditions.

Through these and other Obamacare policies, millions of Americans are gaining health insurance coverage. Parente ignored a major factor that will needlessly drive up North Carolina’s uninsured rate: our state’s decision to refuse federal funds to expand Medicaid, a refusal that leaves an estimated 300,000 low-income persons without insurance and that hurts the state’s hospitals and economy.

There are legitimate issues about Obamacare’s limits and future. Parente, though, seems less interested in addressing those issues than in scaring North Carolinians. We need real health care solutions, not more fear-mongering.

Jonathan Oberlander

Professor, Social Medicine and Health Policy and Management, UNC-CH

Chapel Hill

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