Health care reform has been a budding issue within the United States this past year, and problems continue to surface. At the beginning of this process, Americans wanted the government to ensure that all citizens would be able to have affordable and good health care, no matter what their financial situation. The price for health care was increasing at a rate that people could no longer afford it and a lot of people desperately wanted a universal health care systems like some of their neighboring countries. In a sense, change was needed, but how this change came about is the real issue now. Americans may not get what they bargained for, and it could end up costing more than some individual initially thought. Importance of Research
I want to research this economic policy because I hear so much scrutiny from every individual I talk to, while I also see some friends and family benefiting from the Affordable Care Act. I want to learn more about what we truly signed up for and the repercussions for “pimping out” the health care industry, along with any hidden agendas that might be embedded within this new policy. According to the U.S Department of Health & Human Services, “The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress and then signed into law by the President on March 23, 2010. On June 28, 2012 the Supreme Court rendered a final decision to uphold the health care law” (2014). It is not until 2014 that is really coming into effect, to the point where it is mandated to have insurance by April 2014. This policy was implemented to make sure every American has health insurance but little are properly educated on how this new policy will affect us in the years to come. Time to learn the truth from both sides of the debate Policy Overview
The Affordable Health Care Act, was a policy that has recently been put in place to help citizens receive the health care they need at an affordable price. As wages remain the same, prices continue to climb to the point where minimum wages isn’t enough, health care is last on the list of needs. Many Americans do not have health insurance or receive it from the state because it is not an affordable aspect of our economy and it was not mandated. Now the government as took it upon themselves to make laws and regulations in order to ensure every American citizen has affordable health insurance. For those who can pay more, pay more, and those who can’t, will ultimately pay less. Although that is a great concept for the American people to believe in, but with all of the rules, regulations and underlining laws, it is important to understand what Americans are actually getting from this deal. For this paper, we will focus on individuals, employers and tax credits available to help with the cost of insurance. Provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act
On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed a comprehensive health reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, into law. The laws and changes mad, focuses on provisions to expand coverage, control care costs, and improve health care delivery system. The first provisions is that all Americans are required to have health insurance by April 2014, or individuals will face penalty charges that can affect them for up to three years. So it is very important for citizens to go to the government market place and apply for insurance that they can afford. According to the Kaiser Foundation; “Those without coverage pay a tax penalty of the greater of $695 per year up to a maximum of three times that amount ($2,085) per family or 2.5% of household income. The penalty will be phased-in according to the following schedule: $95 in 2014, $325 in 2015, and $695 in 2016 for the flat fee or 1.0% of taxable income in 2014, 2.0% of taxable income in 2015, and 2.5% of taxable income in 2016” (Kaiser Foundation, 2014). This reason alone is why Americans should not avoid getting insurance.
Other provisions that have been taken into effect deal with employers. Now employers are required to offer insurance based on the amount of employees. For smaller businesses this means having to offer health care insurance to their full time employers and “Require employers with more than 200 employees to automatically enroll employees into health insurance plans offered by the employer. Employees may opt out of coverage” (Kaiser Foundation, 2014). With employers having to offer health care coverage at an affordable rate to full-time employees, it does cause some to opt for part-time employment to avoid having to give out benefits. A lot of Americans fear they will lose hour’s simple because their employers do not want to pay for them, which is something that could easily happen.
Other than individuals and employers being affected, Medicaid is also going under an expansion. More money is being put to those who are in need of insurance and cannot pay for it such as pregnant women, children and parents. With the expansion Medicaid to all non-Medicare eligible individuals under age 65 such as those stated above “All newly eligible adults will be guaranteed a benchmark benefit package that meets the essential health benefits available through the Exchanges” (Kaiser Foundation, 2014). Another important aspect pertains to those who are predisposed to certain medical conditions. For instance, citizens can no longer be denied health care coverage based on health risks they already possess. Among other things, the government also give tax credit in order to lower the cost of insurance, which is based on income and family size.
Analysis of Policy
With any policy or new law there will be objections and an unwillingness to accept these changes. Not every new piece of legislation fixes the problems at hand. Some of the issues only get worse, and then the law must be reformed. With the Affordable Health Care Act, there are a number of pros and cons with this policy and below, it will explain how these changes have greatly affected the general public for the better and worse. Pros
With the Affordable Health Care Act being implemented, there are a number of great aspects that have now been put into effect. The first and easiest of the changes now allows children under the age of 26 to remain on their parents insurance plans, this means longer coverage for young adults in America, this also means no lifetime limits on health coverage; and new insurance policies that must provide preventive care without any form of cost-sharing (UPMC, 2013). Among other changes, these are the following benefits of having the Affordable Health Care Act in place; Health care coverage for uninsured Americans. Through a combination of creating the health insurance marketplace and encouraging the states to expand Medicaid, millions of Americans without health insurance now have access to affordable coverage.
No matter the situation, people will be covered. Reducing uninsured health events: Americans have always had issues regarding medical bills and costly procedures that many could not afford. Now, because the Affordable Health Care Act requires citizens to have health care coverage, we will dramatically reduce the instances of uninsured health events. No more coverage discrimination due to health issues or gender. The main problem with health insurance companies was the fact that they could, “charge outrageous prices or even deny coverage to Americans based on particular medical conditions, age, or gender. Just because you are ill, born with a disability, or female and may need pregnancy care, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have access to affordable coverage” (UPMC, 2013). Changing the laws that govern coverage now helps to end coverage discrimination. Expansion of employer sponsored health coverage.
“Many employers don’t offer any health insurance to employees, even those working full-time. ObamaCare requires all companies with over 50 full-time equivalent employees to offer health insurance to full-time staff by 2016 or they may be subject to a penalty” (UPMC, 2013). This now makes employers responsible for the health care of their employees, which in turn offsets the amount of people on Medicaid, or reduces the amount of people uninsured. These benefits greatly affect the everyday life of an American, no more discrimination due to preexisting conditions, or higher rates to these individuals. Employers now have to offer insurance to their full-time employees, and everyone has the right to affordable health care which will stop them from being forced into debt. Cons
With every policy, there are going to issues that come to surface, sometimes a policy fixes nothing at all, while other times it is just what the doctor ordered. The following are some of the negative effects that could cause the Affordable Health Care Act to backfire or deter Americans from believing in the system. Working Americans will pay more. Most middle-class Americans hold full-time jobs and receive health insurance through their employers. Health care costs were rising before the Affordable Care Act became law, and combined with the effects of the law, employers will likely re-evaluate the insurance they offer. Employers will start to reevaluate their coverage to their employees which could end up increasing their work-based insurance. Some of the required coverage’s are against the moral values of employers. The mandate to offer contraception with no charge to the patient has caused a lot of issues, especially for employers whose moral code dictates that they do not support contraception of any type. But this is a manner of personal choice, employers cannot dictate what their employees needs are.
Adding additional health care expenses will impact workers. The law will cause some employers to offer lower coverage or perhaps no coverage to their workers, or perhaps increase the amount employees pay for health insurance to offset higher premiums from the insurance company, or reduce hours to avoid having to offer coverage to so many full-time employee. The American Debt. As many are concerned about our debt, as the government subsidizes health care, may only make that debt worse. If the law runs over budget, it will be the taxpayers who wind up at a greater disadvantage than ever before. Below is also a graph that shows how government spending will be effected with the new ACA Many of the oppositions to this new law, all comes down to money. Americans do not want to sign on to anything that may cost or lose them money. (Foster, 2011).
Some employers may also try to turn full-time employees into part-time just to avoid having to offer health care coverage. We as a nation end up in debt every year due to unnecessary spending, rather the spending be put in place to help the American people rather than ignore the issue. Unintended Consequences & Alternative Solution
When the Affordable Health Care Act was put in place, a lot of Americans did not understand what they were actually getting for their money, while some hated the thought of government controlling yet another aspect of their lives others rejoiced. The health care act had some adverse consequences when being put into place, the largest problem being the fact that Americans would now be fined if they did not pay for health insurance by the deadline, which is April 1st, 2014. The rate of the fine would increase with each year and end of causing a lot of Americans an unnecessary headache. This also forces people to purchase something they do not necessarily agree with, but unfortunately we cannot pick and choose which laws we decide to follow. Another issue that may affect Americans is the status of being a full-time employee versus being used as a part-time employee. With the new laws, businesses are also affected, some employees may cut employees hours in order to avoid having to offer insurance. Which is another way the Affordable Health Care Act is not benefitting the American citizens. Alternative Method & Recommendation
Although the bill is already in place and functioning, I think the United States would have been better off following in the footsteps of other countries that already have nationalized health care. Instead of imposing all of these rules and regulations, the government should impose taxes on our citizens to help with the cost of health insurance. This will take away the need and frustration of having everyone being forced to find new insurance company based off their income, and have to be fined if they do not participate. With people standing strongly against being forced to buy insurance, taxes would take that fuss out. Americans need to realize, although other countries have national health care, it is nowhere as good as our health care, because when other countries were becoming nationalized, their star doctors were seeking citizenship in America because they could make more money. Now, we have all of these great doctors upset they can no longer reap the benefits of charging what they feel is appropriate, and now insurance companies can no longer deny benefits to those who are a risky investment. There are a large number of countries that simply take care of the health care cost through taxes, which is beneficial because less people feel the effect of paying premiums every month, and if it is based off of wages, so are our taxes, so why not take it out all at once? Conclusion
With every policy, there will always be good and bad aspects that surround the change. In most cases, as long as the good outweighs the bad, then at
the end of the day that is all that really matters. In the large picture, Americans now have the chance at having affordable health care, and cannot be denied over prior history. People can now avoid being put in massive amounts of debt by avoiding the high cost of procedures that they need. No one should ever deny the care they need when it comes to their health. In the long run it may cost companies more money, but if they make money off of their employees, they should be willing to pay for them to remain healthy. Within the next ten years we will truly see if the good outweighs the bad. In my opinion, Obamacare is headed in the right direction, but I do not feel the bill was ready to be passed. With all the opposition to incorporating socialized health care it is understandable why Obama was pushing it through while he is in office, because it may have not went through if it waited much longer. There are also a large number of benefits with the Affordable Health Care Act, people now can purchase affordable health care and not be denied due to pre-existing conditions. I also feel the government should have raised taxes to cover the cost, instead of Americans paying monthly for their insurance. We tend to not miss what is already gone, and this is what other countries have done. People have to pay taxes, so no one would ever need to be fined for not paying for health care every month.
Foster, R. (2011). Estimated effect of the Affordable Care Act on total national health spending. Retrieved on March 1st, 2014 from http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/library/chart-graph/estimated-effect-affordable-care-act-total-national-health-spending Kaiser Foundation. (2014). Summary of the affordable care act. Retrieved on February 24, 2014 from http://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/8061-021.pdf UPMC. (2013). The Pros and Cons of ObamaCare. Retrieved on March 1s, 2014 from http://www.yourhealthcaresimplified.org/news/the-pros-and-cons-of-obamacare/ U.S Department of Health & Human Services. (2014). Read the law. Retrieved on February 12th, 2014 from http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/rights/law/index.html