The Health Care Reform Will Affect People with Diabetes. Securing national health care coverage in the United States has been an elusive goal throughout the course of many presidential administrations. In 2010, the vision of such a program became reality with the passage of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). This achievement, according to Dr. Robert Ratner, “is clearly the most sweeping revision of health care delivery and finance since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid” (2011). Despite the need for such reform, opposing political leaders continuing to debate and attempt to overturn the passage of the act. A great deal of focus continues to be on the details of the plan from a political and legal standpoint, rather than where it arguably should be: on the people who are sick and in need of healthcare reform.
Of specific concern is how health care reform is likely to affect people who are living with diabetes. People who are uninsured, and those who are underinsured, albeit perhaps to a lesser extent, have clearly been missing out on the kinds of health care screening and services that are necessary for the management of diabetes. The lack of health insurance has often caused patients either to neglect or postpone treatment for their diabetes, which ultimately runs the risk of such patients subsequently having a health crisis.
Basic screening and preventive measures, according to the American Diabetes Association Standards of Care (2010), include measurement of blood sugar and lipids, as well as regular eye exams and foot exams. The statistics recorded in an international health survey, however, indicates that less than half (indeed only 43%) of people with diabetes in the U.S. are actually meeting the standards of the ADA. Therefore, it is reasonable to suggest that the extended insurance coverage from health care reform could allow uninsured people with diabetes appropriate access to treatment and preventive measures not available prior to the health care reform act.
The U.S. has been experiencing an epidemic of diabetes and obesity that underscores the need for improving health care accessibility to people who have diabetes. The American Diabetes Association reports that significant benefits to people with diabetes are already being seen since health care reform was enacted. Additional benefits are expected to go into effect in 2014. The benefits of health care reform thus far to people with diabetes include:
• New Coverage Options for Individuals with Preexisting Conditions
• No Preexisting Condition Exclusions for Children
• Young Adults Can Stay on Their Parents’ Plans until age 26
• Free Coverage of Preventive Care
• No Lifetime Limits on Coverage
• Limits the Out-of-Pocket Drug Costs for Seniors
• New Program to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes (American Diabetes Association, 2013)
The reality of health care reform for people with diabetes is that patients who were previously denied health care – based solely on a diagnosis of diabetes – will no longer be subjected to unlawful discrimination of that nature. Withholding medical coverage because people had an illness arguably defies logic.
American Diabetes Association. (2013). How Health Care Reform is Helping People with Diabetes. http://www.diabetes.org/assets/pdfs/advocacy/aca-2nd-anniversary-brief.pdf
American Diabetes Association. (2010). Standards of medical care in diabetes. Diabetes Care 2010; 33 (Supplement 1): S11-S61.
Ratner, R. (2011). Diabetes Management in the Age of National Health Reform. Diabetes Care, Volume 34. 1054-1057.