A year ago the news was consumed with the flubbed rollout of Obamacare.

Long wait times, unresponsive websites, the system had a rough start, and more than a few experts wondered if the Affordable Care Act would survive.

Fast-forward to today, and not only is the health insurance landscape working, it’s much improved for millions of Americans.

Right here in Connecticut, tens of thousands of our neighbors now have health insurance. According to a recent survey by Access Health CT, more than 50 percent of exchange customers who signed up in 2013 had been previously uninsured.

This is truly a win — especially for those fighting chronic illnesses, like the patients we work with managing their epilepsy diagnosis.

But, the war is not won. There is still much to do to ensure that those who are signing up for health insurance plans know what it is they are paying for, what treatments are covered, and how much it will cost them.

That is why the Epilepsy Foundation joined with more than 300 other patient advocates to call on the Department of Health and Human Services to take action to improve certain aspects of the plans.

For the millions who live with chronic illnesses, access to medication often makes the difference between living a productive life, and being left immobilized by their disease.

For those living with epilepsy, not only access to medication, but continued care on the medication that their doctors prescribe is critical. Because of the way this disease works, even the slightest change in a medication can have devastating effects.

It also is critical that for those who need it, medications are not only available, but affordable.

Many of the current plans are putting some of the most critical medications for those battling chronic diseases on “tiers” that raise the cost of the co-pay or, in some cases, charge patients a percentage of the entire cost of the drug.

For some, those costs can quickly add up to thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. For many, that means making a choice between paying for their medications or life’s other necessities.

As we head into another open enrollment session in November, and in order for the Affordable Care Act to continue to be a success, we must insist that insurers stop targeting the small percentage of patients who need these medications. 

The idea of insurance is that when you’re sick, the high costs will be spread out across the system. A tenet of the ACA was that no American should be bankrupted by their disease.

We must continue to demand that insurers abide by these standards, and ensure that those who are subscribing to these plans are truly able to access the coverage that they need.

Linda Wallace is the executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Connecticut.

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