By Jacqueline Abad
Arizona Public Media

A Tucson doctor agrees with President Obama: the country’s broken health care system has caused economic hardship and is one of the most pressing issues in the country.

Obama made the comment in last night’s State of the Union Address.

People without access to affordable health care have shorter lifespans, and more debt, said Dr. James Dalen, dean emeritus and professor emeritus at the UA's College of Medicine.

Dalen supports the Affordable Care Act, and said it is a solution to a number of problems in the health industry.

With the implementation of ACA, Obama said in his speech, no American can be denied or dropped from healthcare coverage for a preexisting condition, such as asthma, allergies, back pain or cancer as of this year.

Obama shared the story of Amanda Shelly, an Arizona resident, who is a physician assistant and single mom, and could not get health insurance prior to ACA.

After she bought a plan on the federal health care exchange, Shelley was able to get the emergency surgery she needed. Without insurance, Shelly told him “that would’ve meant bankruptcy," the president said.

“It turns out...healthcare expenses are the commonest causes of personal bankruptcy,” Dalen explained.

The healthcare system has already improved, Obama said in his address, and Dalen agreed.

More than 3 million young Americans have gained coverage under their parents’ plans and more than 9 million have signed up for Medicaid coverage, according to reports.

However, the implementation of the health insurance marketplaces of ACA was poorly done, Dalen said. The government had four years to get ready but did not properly publicize the benefits until very recently, he added.

“Now that health insurance can be available to everybody and more reasonably priced,” he said, “I think everyone should have health insurance.”

Jacqueline Abad is a University of Arizona journalism student and apprentice at Arizona Public Media.