IYANRICK JOHN: Staying healthy on Father’s Day with help from Obamacare

Father’s Day is a reminder for all of us dads to stay healthy.

As father to three beautiful children — two boys (ages 6 and 3) and a four-week-old baby girl — I intend to celebrate many Father’s Days to come with my wife and kids. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about health insurance. My wife and I both work for organizations that provide medical coverage to employees and their families.

So, I’m able to see a doctor for preventive care and whenever medical emergencies may arise. This gives me time to think about other things, such as what schools my children will attend, who their friends will be and whether they will be die-hard Washington Redskins fans like their dad.

But unlike me, there are many fathers for whom health insurance is still a luxury. About 96 percent of businesses in the United States have fewer than 50 employees. While some provide health insurance, many do not because of the high cost of medical benefits.

As a little boy, I grew up in Maryland in a close-knit Indian community, where I was surrounded by relatives and family friends, many who either owned or worked for small businesses. One of my early role models — my grandfather who immigrated to the United States in the early 1960s from India — owned a typewriter repair business for several years. Back then, I didn’t realize that some of the small business owners and employees in my own community, including my grandfather, may have sacrificed routine medical care because they simply couldn’t afford health insurance.

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, small business owners have new options and incentives for providing health insurance to employees. Although small business owners with fewer than 50 employees are not required to provide health insurance, many can now get tax credits if they choose to do so.

Beginning in October, small business owners will be able to purchase quality health insurance plans, just like larger employers but at a lower cost, through the small business health options program marketplace in their state. Their employees will then have the opportunity to get health insurance coverage for themselves and their families. And as of Jan. 1, the Affordable Care Act will also provide coverage to millions of Americans who want to enroll through the health insurance marketplaces, regardless of whether they have a pre-existing condition or not.

So, this Father’s Day, take a break from your worries and go out and do something fun and healthy with your kids — kick around a soccer ball with them, take them to the playground or go for a nice long walk. And remember that, in just a few months, the Affordable Care Act will provide some peace of mind for many fathers.

 

Iyanrick John is a senior policy analyst at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum. Readers may write to the author at Progressive Media Project, 409 East Main Street, Madison, WI 53703 or email pmproj@progressive.org.

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