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Affordable Care Act presentation attracts full house (w/video)

Dec. 4, 2013 at 6:04 a.m.
Updated Dec. 5, 2013 at 6:05 a.m.

Sarah Fontenot

For information

Visit healthcare.gov to browse the marketplace. For local assistance, visit the Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center, a federally qualified health center at 2805 N. Navarro St. The phone number is 361-578-6281.

Barbara Threatt traveled from Yoakum to Citizens Medical Center in Victoria on Wednesday evening because she wanted to understand the Affordable Care Act.

"It's good the insurance companies have to straighten up their acts," Threatt said. "I'm not a big fan of the Affordable Care Act, but I'm less a fan of insurance companies."

The 63-year-old retired teacher attended Sarah Fontenot's presentation with almost 100 other Crossroads residents.

Fontenot, a nurse and attorney from Fredricksburg, teaches health law at Trinity University and across the country to physicians, nurses, health care executives and the public.

"All the good ideas that ever floated by administrations of all stripes were dropped into the Affordable Care Act," Fontenot said. "Truman was the first U.S. president who said the health care system needed to be reformed."

The health care marketplace, or exchange, is a website in which those not eligible for Medicare can shop for insurance.

The idea is that everyone has access to the best possible treatment, especially those with chronic diseases, Fontenot said.

"In 1965, Medicare was the end of America as we know it, with lots of significant pushback," Fontenot said. "Now, it is one of our plum programs - Medicare is hugely successful."

Fontenot concentrated on three advantages of the new law as well as three areas that have caused concern since the law's rollout.

"There's been so much bad news about the problems while no attention has been given to the advantages," Fontenot said.

On Jan. 1, three benefits of the new plan will take effect: the absence of pre-existing condition exclusions, the removal of lifetime coverage caps by insurance companies and the end of insurance companies dumping the insured when they become sick, Fontenot said.

On the other hand, the glitch-plagued website needs no introduction, Medicare recipients are fearful that the complications during the rollout might affect their coverage, and those insured are receiving notices canceling their insurance policies, she said.

"The Affordable Care Act sets minimum requirements for good insurance, and the policies dropped were not meeting those," Fontenot said. "The question should be, 'What was I paying for then?'"

The law will equalize federal and private Medicare programs. The Medicare Advantage Plans, offered through private companies, include extra benefits that cost the taxpayers, Fontenot said.

"The money that's coming out of Medicare - that's what they're talking about," Fontenot said.

Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance prices are determined by zip code and age as well as risky behaviors such as smoking.

"Women used to pay more for insurance because we were considered more sickly," Fontenot said.

The Affordable Care Act is a way to hold insurance companies accountable, said Threatt.

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