So the Affordable Care Act didn’t exactly deliver the greatest website. What did we get after all those years of haggling?

Only health insurance for 9 million people (and counting) who didn’t have it before. Only an end to pre-existing medical conditions keeping you from getting health coverage. Only insurance for young adults under their parents’ policies, a requirement that your health policy cover preventive care, and health insurance plans that don’t cost any more for the vast majority of Americans — and are somewhat more expensive for a tiny minority who are, in exchange, getting better health coverage.

medicare medicaid cuts fiscal cliff


Just terrible.

I’m kidding. The way some politicians and pundits have become obsessed with the problems of the rollout of President Barack Obama’s signature achievement, you would think he’d set up a social networking website for speed dating. But the Affordable Care Act isn’t some kind of software. It’s health care.

The initial and temporary difficulties millions of Americans suffered when they first tried to sign up don’t matter. What does matter is how much better our health insurance system is becoming.

What matters is that it’s harder for your health insurance company to keep you from getting coverage — or from dropping you when you’re ill. What matters is that you and your children are more likely to get treated for medical problems under the better health insurance policies that the government now requires. What matters is that you will no longer face a lifetime limit on payment for essential health benefits.

Keep in mind that for years conservatives denounced Social Security and Medicare as socialism. Now they’re attacking the Affordable Care Act as “socialism” too.

What in particular about this particular program is “socialistic”? Apparently that everyone must have health insurance either from a private or government insurer. Now we’re all slaves because we have to have health insurance.

Rubbish. We’re all required to do many things some people wish they didn’t have to do.

We have to have car insurance when we drive, so we can afford to pay for the damage we may cause if we’re at fault in an accident. We must vaccinate our children before they go to school so we don’t go back to having mumps or measles or polio epidemics sweep through our elementary schools. We have to pay taxes so we can have teachers in our schools, police and fire protection, inspectors to ensure safe working conditions, clean food and air, and effective prescription drugs.

When people without health insurance rely on an emergency room to give them care they can’t afford, the hospital winds up paying for their care, or the rest of us pay for it when the hospital raises its rates to offset the unpaid bills of the uninsured. We all have to have health insurance so that someone else isn’t forced to pick up the tab when we have a medical catastrophe.

It’s not tyranny. It’s simply responsibility.

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Mitchell Zimmerman

Mitchell Zimmerman is an attorney who lives in Northern California. He supplements his work as a Silicon Valley intellectual property lawyer with pro bono work on behalf of the underrepresented. Distributed via OtherWords (

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