Updated Wed, Apr 23, 2014 5:12 pm
With "Obamacare" being made an election issue nationally by Republicans, the Ohio University Democrats and Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl touted the benefits of the Affordable Care Act during a news conference Wednesday morning.
Wiehl, also a Democrat, said that he knows of many people his age whose children graduated college and were without health insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, children up to the age of 26 can stay on their parents’ health insurance.
He said this new provision is not only helpful for his peers with children, but also college students and recent grads around the country. He said an additional 3 million young people are now covered under their parents’ health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
“It affects everybody I know,” Wiehl said during the news conference at Baker University Center.
Another benefit of the Affordable Care Act Wiehl discussed is coverage for pre-existing conditions.
He also talked about people working until the age of 65, when they become eligible for Medicare. By being able to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, Wiehl said people no longer have to worry about working in their late 50s and early 60s in order to obtain health coverage.
Wiehl said the Affordable Care Act helps fill some of those gaps.
“We can’t leave anybody behind,” he said.
He added that he likes the emphasis the new healthcare law places on preventative healthcare. He said that many uninsured people were using the emergency room as their primary care. Wiehl said that the Affordable Care Act allows more people to afford a primary care physician instead of waiting until they get sick to seek medical treatment at the emergency room.
Wiehl said that 8 million Americans have signed up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act and an additional 3 million are now covered under Medicare.
Caitlin Roberts, a member of the OU Democrats, said she’ll be graduating this spring. She said she’s excited to begin her job search without having to worry about health insurance until she’s 26.
“I’m going to get to choose my job based on my goals and my future career, not because who’s going to give me the best healthcare,” Roberts said. “Plus I don’t have to worry about getting sick and not having healthcare because I am covered until I turn 26 now.”
Roberts also shared that 26 percent of those who signed up for medical coverage through the Affordable Care Act were people between the ages of 18 and 34.
“It really is benefiting this generation,” she said.
Fellow OU Democrat Marika Bresler said she supports the Affordable Care Act because of what it’s done for her family. She said her brother is a Type 1 diabetic who is dependent on insulin. Bresler said her brother struggled to pay for his medication after he was dropped from his parents’ insurance.
“He was left without access to the medication he needs to survive,” she said. “He was forced to find ways to afford for his insulin until he was offered a job that provided health insurance. That was a really scary and stressful time for my family.”
Bresler said her brother was able to get back on his parents’ health insurance until he was 26 and then enrolled in coverage through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace.
“My brother’s story is one of 3 million Americans who gained health insurance after the passage of the Affordable Care Act and I support it because it’s making life easier for families like mine,” she said.