The Affordable Care Act Can Help Millions

(Special to The Root) — Imagine the anxiety suffered by Tee McClenty, a medical technician and mother of a 19-year-old son, when she received a letter in the mail stating that his health care coverage had been dropped because he was no longer a full-time student.

Imagine the distress that Denise Ybarra, a pediatric health care worker, felt when her husband lost his job and they questioned whether their 16-year-old daughter, diagnosed with T-cell leukemia 10 years earlier, would be denied health insurance because of her previous medical condition.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, mothers like McClenty and Ybarra don’t have to fear for the health of their children. They can look forward to benefits of the law that will extend help to millions more women, children, young adults and seniors if it’s upheld by the Supreme Court this month.

As both health care consumers and health care workers, members of Service Employees International Union, the nation’s largest union of health care workers, embarked on a journey to help fix the nation’s broken health care system. Before the Supreme Court makes its decision, we want all working families to understand the importance of upholding the health care law and the vital nature of protecting health care reforms, now and in the future. This is especially true for African Americans, Latinos and other people of color who represent 33 percent of the U.S. population, make up more than 50 percent of the uninsured and whose access to health care has been historically marred by discrimination.

Regardless of race or ethnicity, however, nearly one in two Americans does not know the facts about how the health care law works or how they can get better care under the health care law. Since the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2010, millions of families have gained access to quality, affordable health care and the financial security that it brings in tough economic times. By 2014 the health care law will extend coverage to the majority of Americans who are uninsured.

While her insurance agent did not initially understand the new benefits, McClenty had heard about the extended coverage for older children under the health care law. She got her son added back to her policy. Imagine her relief after her son broke his wrist months later and needed a bone graft — the $30,000 bill was covered under the health insurance. Additionally, Ybarra’s daughter — like 129 million men, women and children who were at risk of being denied coverage by insurance companies because of a pre-existing health condition — was fully covered.

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