Presidential Weekly Address - 3 January 2015
THE VICE-PRESIDENT: Hello everyone, this is Joe Biden. I want to wish you all a Happy New Year.
I know this is the time of year when we make resolutions to take care of our health, whether it's joining a gym or eating healthier. But there's one thing you can do right now that will also make a big difference in your health: that is getting quality, affordable health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
Because of that law, access to quality health care is improving. Last year, almost seven million people signed up for health care coverage under the new law and paid their premiums. And in many cases the cost of health care is less than the cost of your cell phone or your cable bill. In addition, millions more are getting the care that they need through Medicaid that they weren't getting before.
And because of the new law, people who already had health insurance are also benefiting from additional protections. For example, their insurance companies can't deny them coverage because of pre-existing conditions, like asthma or diabetes. And they’re able to get -- for free -- preventive services like mammograms or blood pressure screenings that their doctors ordered for them, saving them a lot of money.
Everyone is beginning to realize what millions of you already know -- the Affordable Care Act is working. And we're just getting started. Because there are millions more of you who can get quality, affordable health care if you sign up before February 15th of this year. That’s now through February 15th.
Now if you don't have insurance, you can go to HealthCare.gov, where you'll find a menu of a bunch of different plans and what each plan covers and how much each plan costs. All you have to do is just pick one. The best one that fits your family's health care needs and your family's budget.
If you don't want to go to HealthCare.gov and you want to talk to somebody on the phone instead, you can call, I'm going to give you the number now, you can call 1-800-318-2596. From this moment on, you can call any time of the day, any day of the week. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And for folks listening today whose family and friends may not speak English: let them know that there are translators available in over 150 language to guide them through the process.
And if you're not comfortable going online or speaking on the phone, and you want to sit down with an individual to help you through this, you can find out where to go as well. Because in every community, at local libraries or community health centers, people are there to help. All you have to do is go on HealthCare.gov, type in where you live, and you can find out exactly where to go to sit down with a person who will help you walk through the process.
But here's the really important point I want to make. If you don't sign up by February 15th of this year -- with only a very few exceptions -- if you don’t sign up by the 15th of this year, you’re going to have to wait until 2016 to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
And even those of you who already have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, you can also go on HealthCare.gov to find a plan that might offer more benefits or be more affordable in price for you. You might even qualify for additional help paying for the insurance you choose because your income isn't what it was last year.
Now I'm sure some of you already heard from your friends and neighbors who’ve signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act what I hear all around the country. I hear it provides peace of mind that someone you love will be covered if, God forbid, something happens. It provides security, so if you have a bad strain in your ankle or your back and you don’t have the money to get treatment, you can now get the treatment rather than wait, put it off, and end up with a chronic condition. And it provides a lot of freedom, and choice, and opportunity -- so you can switch jobs or move to another city without the fear that you'll lose out on the health insurance with the company you now have it with. And what I'm hearing most is how pleased and excited people are about how affordable it is.
An awful lot of people who didn't think they could or would find quality, affordable health insurance are actually able to get assistance from the government to help them pay for their health care plans at a cheaper rate. Let me give you an example. A family of four with an income of around $95,000, they can still get a subsidy to lower their health care premiums.
But maybe most importantly, what I hear is that we have finally ended the debate in this country of whether or not health insurance is a right or a privilege. We think everyone in America has a right to have adequate health care insurance. And the Affordable Care Act gives them that right. So sign up. And spread the word. Protect your health -- not only for your sake, but for the sake of your families.
Thanks for listening, and Jill and I wish you again a happy and healthy New Year. God bless you, and may God protect our troops.