By ensuring that affordable health insurance is available to all individuals regardless of prior medical history and health status, provisions in the new federal health law protect the health and financial stability of patients with chronic conditions such as cancer.
However, ending discrimination of people with pre-existing conditions can only work if all Americans are required to participate in the health insurance system. Without that requirement, healthy people tend to avoid buying insurance until they need it, leaving insurance plans to cover a sicker population and driving up costs for everyone in the health care system.
Think of the health law as a carefully woven fabric. If you tug on and remove the coverage requirement, the entire law unravels.
Health insurance coverage is essential to leading a healthy life. I hope that when the Supreme Court makes its final decision this summer, it will end confusion and allow implementation to continue in a way that supports and strengthens the law’s provisions that enable patients with chronic diseases to access quality, affordable health care.
I say these things as someone who is battling cancer and who needs the protections offered by the Affordable Care Act. The costs on the “back end” are so much higher than dealing with early detection and treatment with an affordable insurance plan. As a society we all benefit.
(Massey is a volunteer with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.)