Editor’s Note: Welcome to the latest installment of “Sight Lines,” a feature in which J.C. Noreika, MD, MBA, an ophthalmologist in Medina, OH, discusses trends in ophthalmology, medicine, and health care with key leaders in their fields. In this issue, Dr. Noreika talks with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Dr. Noreika: It is an honor to speak to you today. You represent more than 11 million people in Washington, DC, and you’ve been a long-time friend of medicine and ophthalmology. I would like to talk about the changes that are going on in medicine—especially in regard to accessibility to quality health care and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Can you share your thoughts relative to these changes?
Early in my congressional career, you invited me to your office and I watched you and learned about your practice. My dad was a general practice physician, as you know, and so I was open to these discussions. As the ACA is implemented, it is important that doctors have their say and that members of Congress understand the challenges physicians face and the interplay between the law and a physician’s practice.
There are a number of very positive things in the ACA. A lot more people have insurance. In Ohio, about a half million more people have insurance today than (several) months ago. Having children with pre-existing conditions no longer disqualifies a family from getting insurance. We have seen thousands of cases already in Ohio, for instance, where a family previously denied (coverage by insurance companies) for years can no longer be denied. On the other end, when someone gets sick and becomes very expensive to care for, the insurance companies can no longer cut them off.
Also, the ACA requires that 80% to 85% of premium dollars go to actual health care. That means it goes to medicine, doctors, and hospitals, not to advertising, marketing, executive salaries, or profits.
The law also has some very important provisions for seniors in terms of preventive care. Things such as eye checkups, physicals, or screenings for osteoporosis or diabetes are covered with no co-payment and no deductible. This is particularly important for ophthalmologists, since so many of their patients are seniors.
On the other end of the age spectrum, people under 27 can be covered on their parents’ health-care plan.
There have been problems, of course, but I think the ACA is a big advance for patients in general.
NEXT: Continued + Podcast