It’s funny how changes in health care policy seem to generate anxiety, anger, and all sorts of misinformation in the United States. Well, actually it’s not so funny.
How is it that so few people can scare so many others when it comes to keeping many more people healthy? But that describes what has happened with the Affordable Care Act. A small number of fear mongers have frightened many others — often citizens who can benefit from better access to health care.
My husband’s grandfather, a small-town merchant, refused Medicare for years, because of the anxiety, anger, and misinformation associated with the passage of the laws. He would have benefitted if he had signed up in a timely manner for the Medicare coverage that he was entitled to receive. In those days he would have needed to get the forms, probably lengthy ones, fill in the information, mail them, and wait around for several weeks — not like today when, once the IT experts tweak the computer systems, people will be able to sign up in a day or two.
But back then — it was the 1960′s — rumors were rampant with stories about how socialism, maybe even communism, might overtake us if seniors had access to health care. Thus Grandfather Dye continued to avoid Medicare — for several years, not signing up until his daughter, a life-long cloth-coat Republican, pointed out that most seniors were signing up and that the program was working.
Grandfather did sign up, regularly used his Medicare benefits, received good treatment for his chronic health problems and, probably because of that medical care, lived well into his mid-nineties. How can anyone argue with that?
Yesterday was the first day when people here in the United States signed up for the Affordable Care Act, and yes, people experienced glitches when they tried to access the sites. It’s important to remember, however, that no computer system is ever perfect and every single new one requires tweaks and adjustments at the beginning. If you are trying to sign up and the system is too busy and too slow, do exactly what you would do at the bank or other online sites — wait a while and try again.