Editorial | The United States needs to medically insure more people — not fewer


AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Pharmaceuticals are seen in North Andover, Mass., June 15, 2018. For millennials with chronic medical conditions — or those raising kids with chronic conditions — health care can be an enormous monthly expense.

The U.S. government said in January that nearly 16 million people signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act for 2023. This number marks a 12% increase compared to last year, indicating that more people want and are able to get insured.  

But last week, a federal judge in Texas struck down the mandate within the Affordable Care Act that requires private health insurers to fully cover preventive care services at no cost to patients. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s decision took effect nationwide immediately and impacts a variety of preventive care services, including certain cancer, heart, HIV and STD screenings and tobacco programs.

The American Cancer Society’s 2022 Cancer Facts and Figures report says that screening can help prevent colorectal and cervical cancers, and detect other cancers early. Receiving a diagnosis early means treatment is often less intensive and remission is more likely. The ACS also asserts in the report that screening is known to reduce mortality rates for breast, colon, rectum, cervix, lung and prostate cancer — all among the most common types of cancer in Americans. 

The three leading causes of death in the United States are heart disease, cancer and COVID-19 — illnesses that are preventable in some or most cases, and are usually treatable if caught early enough through testing or screening. Eliminating the requirement that insurers offer some preventative services unnecessarily puts people at risk for adverse health effects.

The Texas ruling goes against human security and health measures and is something the federal government is trying to stop. Kamara Jones, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, said, “We will do everything we can to protect and defend Americans’ rights to the health care they need and deserve.” The Justice Department filed a notice of appeal on the matter, and the Biden administration also plans to appeal the ruling.

O’Connor has a history of ruling against the Affordable Care Act. In 2018, he ruled that the ACA is unconstitutional — a decision the Supreme Court overturned. And while he is not the only judge to make such a claim, he is an effective advocate against the closest thing this country has to a universal healthcare system and has much of the GOP on his side

The United States needs to insure more people to encourage and maintain the population’s health, and preventative care is a good way to do that.