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Critical medical events are upon us

September 14, 2013
By C. Paul Martin, M.D. , Marshall Independent

My father often told me that certainties in life are few. We all know the adage that "only two things in life are certain: Death and Taxes." However, a third inevitable item has now entered our lives - Medical Insurance.

President Obama's often maligned Affordable Care Act (ACA) is now the law of the land as of spring 2010.

While it is still a work in progress, its mission and requirements to provide medical coverage for about 32 million uninsured Americans while controlling medical costs are now in place.

In brief summary, the most apparent and urgent requirement facing those citizens involved is the need on the part of those 32 million is to have personal medical insurance in place by March 31, 2014, or face a tax penalty.

Experts and others involved in the insurance industry have related the fact that a significant number of U.S. citizens think that the ACA is not law, will be repealed, and/or know little or nothing about insurance logistics (co-pays, deductible amounts, waiting periods, etc).

They may not realize the import of the mandatory insurance requirement. Since they do not have insurance now or never had insurance, they may be uninformed, misinformed or mistaken.

What can one do to become aware of his responsibilities? Information is vital to understanding and action. It is important to note:

People who have employee-provided medical insurance usually require no additional actions;

People with governmental insurance, i.e. Medicare, Medicaid, and some VA insurances may not require additional insurance to be in compliance;

Others will have the opportunity to purchase appropriate medical insurance through the state insurance exchanges; Minnesota's exchange is MnSure (;

Insurance sold through the exchanges (and through regular agents) include policies which contain the 10 essential benefits required, which include preventive services (immunizations, examinations, laboratory studies), hospitalization, medications, maternity care, and mental health treatments, etc. The only consideration regarding rates is smoking habits. Pre-existing medical illnesses are no longer considered.

All of us need to become informed about the continuing diversity and implementation of the ACA program and follow its developments.

Sources of Information about this important medical and legal issue are readily available. Consult your usual insurance agent, your source of outpatient medical care ("Clinic"), the local hospital business office, and the following websites:

Kaiser Family Foundation ( Be sure to read the "Summary of the ACA" and take the Health Reform Quiz. The site contains valuable information about a number of aspects about the ACA.

Undoubtedly, local agencies will be having programs about the ACA and the requirements of insurance. Consult them for your needs.

It is important that the prudent consumer becomes informed and acts NOW!



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