More than 49 million Americans lack health insurance, and the number keeps rising. Most families can barely afford their rising health-care expenses. Many worry about losing the insurance they now have. Employers are now commonly shifting health care coverage costs to employees; and those workers who are insured are struggling in order to pay deductibles, co-payments, and high premiums.
Our broken system is a problem for American businesses, too. Companies that provide good health benefits are at a disadvantage. Many must compete in the marketplace with foreign companies that do not pay for health-care benefits because their governments have set up national health-care programs and responsible local companies have trouble competing with businesses that provide poor (or no) health benefits.
Two years ago the labor movement celebrated the passage of the Affordable Care Act, an important step toward fixing our nation’s broken health care system. While most of the national health care reforms will take effect in 2014 the Act has already had a demonstrable impact expanding coverage to millions of Americans including young adults who may now be covered under their parent’s health care plans, seniors who have better Medicare access to prescription drugs, and people with pre-existing medical conditions.