Anna Popinchalk is volunteer coordinator at the Family Tree Clinic in St. Paul.
Today is a great day. While the Affordable Care Act is by no means perfect, it is a step in the right direction for the American health care system. I adamantly believe that health care is a human right, and the Affordable Care Act is a necessary step in allowing all Americans to receive health care.
Working in a community clinic, every day I see the barriers individuals face when they don't have health insurance. The majority of our patients are un- or under-insured, and are therefore forced to decide whether or not they can afford health care.
This is a decision that no individual should have to make. While community clinics that offer free or subsidized services on a sliding fee scale have helped make health care more affordable, ultimately this system causes individuals to forgo important preventative care and treatment.
This can have long term medical implications for patients and also lead to higher costs to the health care system and to society. Now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Americans will be able have health insurance coverage regardless of their economic status, employer's ability to provide health insurance or any per-existing conditions.
While the Affordable Care Act will bring a lot of positive changes to our health care system, we must remember that increasing health insurance coverage will not guarantee access to health care.
The implementation of this law will not address the other barriers that impact access including socioeconomic status, cultural understanding, social stigma and transportation, among other factors. In addition there will inevitably be individuals who fall through the cracks, and will still require low cost health care.
As a result it is imperative that we continue to support community clinics who work with populations at risk for health disparities, in order to ensure that access to health care services is truly achieved.
Thankfully the upholding of the Affordable Care Act will help us work towards these goals, in hopes of creating a stronger health care system for Americans.