Another Perspective — Affordable health care for all

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If you have ever felt healthcare was beyond your reach, now is your time.

If it was too expensive or if you had a medical problem that prevented you from getting insurance, now is your time.

If you lived in fear of losing all you have because of huge medical bills you couldn’t afford, now is your time.

Because starting now, New Mexicans have the chance to sign up for health-care through the new Health Insurance Exchange.

What does this mean for you?

It means today, you can go on to the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange at www.bewellnm.com and sign up for health coverage that will begin on January 1, 2014.

It means that if you are under Medicare age (65) and earn too much to receive Medicaid, you will qualify for additional funding to help defray the costs of covering you and your family.

It means that not only can you no longer be denied coverage because of past medical conditions, health plans also can’t charge you more because of those past conditions.

The Affordable Care Act, (ACA) is changing American health care to be more affordable for you. Whether you love it or hate it, two things are now true: it is the law of the land, and New Mexicans are waking up today with many more affordable healthcare choices than they had on Sept. 30.

As with anything new, we know implementation of health reform and the Exchange is not going to happen without a few bumps in the road. But as someone with more than 30 years of experience in healthcare — as a doctor, as a member of the ExchangeBoard and as CEO of the state’s new non-profit health plan — I see this day as a huge opportunity for New Mexicans to start living healthier and more secure lives.

At New Mexico Health Connections we are a key part of the improvement of American health care. We are one of 23 consumer oriented and operated health plans (CO-OPs) established nationwide to bring access and affordable health care to the market. We do things to make health care easier. Our benefit plans are built around primary care providers and keeping people healthy. As an example of this commitment to keeping people healthy, we will not require co-payments for many medications used by people with chronic illnesses. This will help people avoid unnecessary and costly hospitalizations. Also, because we are a non-profit, any profits we make must be shared with our members in the form of lower costs, improved quality and expanded benefits.

We are local to New Mexico — built here to serve New Mexicans. We are an innovative new option, created for the healthcare realities of the 21st Century.

It’s hard to argue that more competition and a non-profit health-plan alternative are not a good thing for most New Mexicans. Our mission is simple: to offer New Mexicans affordable coverage and to help them work with their doctors to become more proactive about their health and wellness so that they can lead healthier, happier lives.

So, as you take some time in the coming days to think about your family’s healthcare options, I invite you to visit the Health Insurance Exchange web site at www.bewellnm.com; and while you’re at it, check out our web site at www.mynmhc.org. Start investigating what this change can mean for you.

Of course, with change come questions. But if you’re like me, you also recognize that change also can bring great opportunity. And for New Mexicans, that opportunity is finally putting affordable health coverage within their reach.
Martin Hickey is CEO of New Mexico Health Connections and a member of the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange Board of