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Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) Essay

How the Affordable Care Act Effects United States Citizens

The overarching theme of my paper is the controversial topic of the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obama Care, is now open in the U.S. and means there are many new changes that exist in the health care policies. The problem with these health care policies is that many Americans don’t have any health care insurance, and this is a big problem. Those receiving and not receiving benefits fall into four segments of the population: Half receive insurance through an employer, one-third receives it through the U.S.

Government, one-tenth of the population are individuals purchasing it themselves, and the uninsured comprise the remaining percentage. For those who receive insurance through their employers, the amount paid out of pocket is capped. Each of these people will also get free preventative care, in order to keep them healthy in the work place. Companies with over 50 employees must insure employees or pay a penalty (effective in 2015). Small businesses are encouraged to buy insurance, but are not forced too, and special marketplaces are set-up for them to buy the insurance and benefit from temporary tax breaks.

Another change is that insurers cannot inflate prices if an employee becomes sick also; Medicaid now covers prescription drugs and is expanded to cover more Americans. This covers poor adults who make less then $15,856 a year these people will be covered by private insurance plans, but each State’s governor and legislature may decide weather to be apart of the Medicade expansion. In the States that subscribe, the federal government will over almost all the costs. For those who live in a State that choses not to subscribe, alternative options exist. For example, to buy it individually at one of the Health Insurance marketplaces. These are virtual megamall of insurance companies competing for business. but therein the individual decides the amount of coverage and cost. There are four different levels of coverage:

Bronze: the least expensive
Silver: lower-mid expense
Gold: upper-mid expense
Platinum: most expensive

All plans cover hospital visits, doctor’s visits, maternity care, mental health and prescription drugs. Almost everything most of us need concerning medical care. The big advantage of buying at a marketplace is that the Federal Government will provide tax credits. If a family of 3 makes below $78,120 a year they are eligible for these credits, for example. In fact, the majority of people buying it will be eligible for tax credits. A new change is that these marketplaces operate under strict rules and must be fair. They must offer insurance to everyone including the sick. Also, unlike in the past, men and women will pay the same price. Prices for older people will come down, but prices for younger people will go up to help cover the cost.

In order to help younger people, however, they can stay a parent’s plans until age twenty-six, and buy low budget catastrophic plans until the age of thirty. Insurance will still not be cheap; some people will be paying more but be getting more coverage because of it, with tax credits as well. Lastly, to the question many are asking; if people cannot be turned down or charged more, then why not wait to buy it until being sick or injured? One can only get coverage through certain enrollment periods and without insurance, the individual will be fined. In circumstances wherein an individual cannot afford insurance, then the government will pay for it and wave the penalty.

Who pays for Obama Care?

Taxes will be paying for most of these changes, many of which are aimed at the health industry, in addition to taxes from the wealthiest of Americans. At the same time hospital and insurance companies participating will pay a little less.

The Solution

The solution to this problem of many Americans being uninsured is the Affordable Care Act. The ACA has a new insurance website/marketplace. Obama said, it’s a marketplace for Americans without health insurance and those Americans that are buying on their own, because they cant get it through their jobs. The Affordable Care Act makes you apart of a big group plan for the first time in the nations history. The marketplace is where you can shop for affordable, and new health insurance choices. It gathers all insurers under one system, and makes them compete for your business. The sense of competition and people having options has actually helped bring prices down. The easiest way to buy insurance in this marketplace will be through the new website www.healthcare.gov.

But as you may of heard the website isn’t working the way it is suppose to yet. This is especially difficult for the Americans trying to get covered. The website, according to CNN and Examiner.com – “Hackers have attempted 16 cyber attacks have been brought out against the Obamacare website, according to a top Homeland Security Department official. The acting Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Roberta Stempfley highlighted a successful attack, which was designed to deny access to the website. This attack was called DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service. It’s designed to make the network unavailable to intended users, obviously in an effort to disrupt the servers, by causing more traffic on it then it was designed to handle. Right Wingers have been distributing the link to the necessary tools to preform the attacks on Healthcare.gov through social networking sites, as reported by Information weekly and other websites.

The site has been still been visited 20,000,000 times already and 100,000 have applied for coverage already. Which is proof of the demand for good quality, affordable healthcare choices. But the website isn’t the only way to apply for these new plans. You can enroll over the phone, by mail or in person with a specially trained navigator to help answer all your questions. These plans do not sell out and we are only about a month into the six-month enrolling process. But with the website not running correctly, it is interesting to see the republicans in congress expressing so much concern for people having trouble buying healthcare through the new website. Especially when thinking they have spent the last couple years denying these people health insurance. And shutdown the government and threatened to fault over it. It should be well in the past for people to continue rooting for ObamaCare’s failure.

The affordable care act gives people who have been stuck with sky-high premiums because of preexisting conditions (Sarcoma, Sickle Cell Anemia and Parkinson’s Disease) to name 3 of the 250+ conditions that apply, the chance to get affordable insurance for the first time. Along with the poor and unemployed people who cannot afford these pricey plans. This law finally makes it where women pay the same as men for the same care. And for everyone who already has health insurance, whether through employer, Medicare or Medicade will keep the benefits and protections this law has already put into place. Young adults now have health insurance on their parent’s plans because of the affordable care act, up until age 26, Obamacare’s dependent-coverage provision, which allows young adults to stay on their parents’ plans until December 31 of the year in which they turn 26, was supposed to be a second option, a fallback plan for early-career turbulence.

But the real unemployment rate of people ages 18–29 hovers at 16.3 percent, and a tight labor market has forced many young adults to hang onto their parents’ coverage until the last legal moment. Since March 2010 the Affordable Care Act has given 3.1 million young adults access to insurance they would not otherwise have had a chance to get. This change is a vast improvement from the pre-Obamacare days when age 19 or older for full-time students was the cutoff at which insurance companies forced children from their parents’ plans. The number 3.1 million is a big number, and in a better economy, it would be smaller. According to a 2011 report by the groups Demos and Young Invincible, “Just 43.7 percent of all 18- to 24-year-olds and 55.7 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds were covered by an employer sponsored plan in 2009, both significantly lower than a decade earlier.”

For anyone not having paid work and under 26, Obamacare covers a major shortfall. More then six million on Medicare have saved an average of $1000 on their prescription medicine because of the affordable care act. Last year, more then 8 million Americans received half a billion dollars in refunds from their insurers because of the affordable care act. And for millions of women preventive care, like mammograms and birth control are free. This act was fought for because it will now free millions of American families from the fear that one illness or injury to a loved one or child might cost them everything they had worked for. This Act cements the principle that “in this country the security of health care is not a privilege for a fortunate few. But a right for everyone of us to enjoy.” – Barack Obama The Political Climate

The politics surrounding Obamacare is one of the more confusing things about the act. The Supreme Court upheld most of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; it did strike down a key provision in healthcare law’s expansion of Medicaid. Under the original legislation, Medicaid—the joint state-federal government health insurance program for lower-income Americans—would be expanded to cover those making 133 percent of the poverty level. States that refused to participate in this expansion would risk losing federal funding for their current Medicaid programs. However, the Supreme Court ruled the federal government could not withdraw existing Medicaid funding to punish states for not expanding their programs, thus giving states the choice to opt out of the expansion.

More than a few states have expressed intentions of doing so. The federal government would pick up the tab for most of the Medicaid expansion when it is implemented in 2014, but states would be required to pay for 10 percent of it by 2020. Though a countrywide expansion would provide coverage for some 17 million Americans who otherwise do not qualify for Medicaid, some states, including Florida, Mississippi, Colorado, and Pennsylvania, say that paying for even 10 percent of the expansion is too much for their tight budgets. Proponents of the healthcare law say that in the long-term, the Medicaid expansion will save both state and federal governments money while extending healthcare coverage to millions of lower-income Americans. Opponents say it is just another example of government overreaches and that it is up to the states to determine whether they can afford such an expansion.

Is Medicaid expansion good for the states? Here is where the debates/political sides really start taking effect. No — States can’t afford the financial burden of expanding Medicaid. Rick Scott, Republican Governor of Florida Yes — States can increase Medicaid without significant revenue increase. Rick Mayes, Associate Professor of Public Policy at the University of Richmond There are many arguments for and against every point in the Affordable Care act. Examples are the two above responses. Both are talking about the affordability for of the act for states. One says it’s a burden to states, the other says there is not risk for states to increase Medicaid and it doesn’t increase states revenue. The arguments against this are “Increasingly, doctors simply can’t afford to treat Medicaid patients. Is it fair that the president’s health care law will force millions of disabled and sick Americans to compete with able-bodied 25-year-olds for appointments with those doctors who will still see them?” Chairman Jim Pitts serves in the Texas House of Representatives as the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

He is a member of the Republican Party says that expanding Medicaid compromises states’ “ability to care for our country’s poorest and sickest citizens.” A problem with this statement is that Medicaid is designed to help the sickest and poorest Americans and the expansions provide millions and millions of dollars to help these poor and sick people. But with the expansion what most Republicans say is that the money will not go to the neediest and sickest of Americans and will be extended to help more sick and less of the very sick. Another problem people have is that they think States will be exposed to higher Medicaid costs when Washington recalculates its matching payments. Republicans say while the lure of the 100% match in federal funding tempts states to expand Medicaid, states will pay a high price for the expansion.

According to a 2011 congressional report, Medicaid expansion would cost states at least $118 billion over the next ten years. Once millions more people are enrolled in Medicaid, history says that it is nearly impossible for states to pay the contracts they had entered into. Now a question that is brought up regularly is, is the Affordable Care Act really the same as “the Republican plan in the early ’90s?” A short answer to this is — sort of. There was a Republican bill in the Senate that looked a whole lot like Obamacare, but it wasn’t the only GOP (republican) bill on Capitol Hill, it never came to a vote because plenty of republicans didn’t like it. President Bill Clinton took on an ill-fated effort to reform health care in 1993.

As the president’s task force (led by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton) worked behind closed doors to craft solutions to ever-rising health care costs and a growing number of uninsured families, Republicans scrambled to forge an alternative. Republican Sen. John Chafee of Rhode Island was the headman. The bill he introduced, Health Equity and Access Reform Today, (yes, that spells HEART) had a list of 20 co-sponsors (two or more advertisers share the cost of a campaign or promotional activity) that was a who’s who of Republican leadership. There was Minority Leader Bob Dole, R- Kan., Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and many others. There also were two Democratic co-sponsors. Among other features, the Chafee bill included:

An individual mandate
Creation of purchasing pools
Standardized benefits
Vouchers for the poor to buy insurance
A ban on denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition

“You would find a great deal of similarity to provisions in the Affordable Care Act,” Sheila Burke, Dole’s chief of staff in 1993, told PunditFact via email. “The guys were way ahead of the times!! Different crowd, different time, suffice it to say.” That said, the Senate plan from 1993 was not identical to the health care law that passed in 2010. The Republican bill did not expand Medicaid as Obamacare does, and it did have medical malpractice tort reform, which the current law does not. In contrast to the current employer mandate, the Chafee bill required employers to offer insurance, but they were under no obligation to help pay for it. Policy differences aside, health care scholar and former Clinton adviser Paul Starr at Princeton University said the Affordable Care Act is distinct in one other important way. “The Chafee plan did not spell out how increased coverage would be financed,” Starr said. “It was more of a symbolic bill than an actual piece of legislation.” In fact, after the bill was introduced, the Senate never took it up again.

Pros and Cons of The Affordable Care Act

According to http://obamacarefacts.com the average American has a lot to gain and little to lose, while those making more including larger firms and consequently their employees, may notice negative financial effects. While some groups benefit more than others, all Americans will benefit from the new rights and protections like guaranteed coverage of pre-existing conditions and the elimination of gender discrimination. Your health insurance costs may go up, but the quality of your insurance just got a lot better. The Obamacare pros are:

Tens of millions of uninsured will get access to affordable quality health insurance through the marketplace. Over half of uninsured Americans can get free or low cost health insurance using their State’s Health Insurance Marketplace. Medicaid is expanded up to 15.9 million men, women and children below 138% of the poverty level. You can’t be dropped from coverage when you get sick or make an honest mistake on your application. You also can’t be denied coverage or treatment for being sick or charged more for being sick. You can’t be charged more for being a woman either. Small businesses can get tax credits for up to 50% of their employee’s health insurance premium costs. Young Adults can stay on parents plan until 26. 82% of uninsured adults will qualify for free or low cost insurance. The cons according to http://obamacarefacts.com are:

In order to get the money to help insure tens of millions there are new taxes, mostly on high-earners. The taxes that may affect you directly are the individual mandate and employer mandate. The individual mandate says you have to obtain health coverage by January 2014, get an exemption or pay a fee if you can afford it. Medicaid is expanded using Federal and State funding. Not all State’s have to expand Medicaid. Insurance companies must cover sick people and this increases the cost of everyone’s insurance. Young people tend to be healthy and not to need coverage as often as older Americans.

Insurance premiums have increased due to insurers having to provide covered services. Obamacare focuses more on making sure people are covered than it does on addressing the cost of care in the first place. This Obamacare pros and cons list is meant to give you an idea of the most praised and most controversial aspects of the 2000 plus page bill. Too many online sources only want to give you one side of the story; we aim to bring you an unbiased look at both the negative and positive aspects of the bill.

The positive aspects of the bill are that it offers a number of protections and benefits to all Americans. Beyond the 10 essential health benefits mandated by Obamacare, additional benefits range from chipping away at pre-existing conditions to expanding health services. Overall, the quality of health care is increased, while the cost, in theory, will be reduced. Middle income Americans (those making between 133% – 400% of the federal poverty level), and employees will be able to use tax credits and out-of-pocket subsidies on the exchanges to save up to 60% of the current cost of premiums making insurance affordable for up to 23 million Americans.

One of the cons of Obamacare is that since many Americans work for larger employers, some employees may have the new costs involved with insuring their workforce passed onto them. Other workers will see a decrease in quality of plans offered by employers, to avoid the employer paying a excise tax on high-end health insurance plans. These cons will affect less than 1% of businesses, and only a small fraction will deal with the new challenges by cutting worker hours. The last thing that needs to be considered is that as I have heard from my family over break, social security benefits laws had a tough time getting passed as well in 1935. Now social security is something that is a privilege earned by those who have worked hard until the age of 65 when they can start receiving these benefits.

This is something that every American gets without question and this needs to be the same as health care. The debates over social security took 29 days for the Senate and 14 days for the house to get it passed and work out the kinks they could see. This is very similar to the debates over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). In my opinion I think that Obamacare is the answer that many Americans have been looking for. Even though only 26 states and the District of Columbia have decided to expand Medicaid, which is a large section of Obamacare, there are 4 still considering the expansion. The reason for the other 21 states not expanding is because of the Governors not supporting it or the states saying they don’t have the budget for the expansion.

Conclusion

Concluding the topic such as Obamacare is a very difficult thing to do. There are so many things about Obamacare that will never be agreed upon by everybody. Obamacare could help a million people and hurt one person and one side or the other will use that one person as a reason to not vote for it or agree on it. I think that with the implementation of Obamacare the poorest Americans without insurance can now get a personal doctor and save lots of money. Example: A very poor person breaks their arm; they would normally go the emergency room and be treated. But now they can have a family doctor and go get the arm fixed for at least 10 times less money. The reason the poor go to the ER is because they can’t be turned away and they don’t have the money to pay for it, because they have none. So that raises our health insurance in order to pay for these poorer people.

This is the most inefficient way of health insurance to handle the sick and injured in the world in my opinion and the United States has it. The United States is the only developed country in the world that doesn’t have a comprehensive health care program. This is a huge embarrassment to the United States government and should be to every citizen as well. The United States needs a comprehensive health insurance policy for every legal citizen. And there may never be a complete agreement on how it should be set up or whom all needs to pay for it but it needs to be done in every state.


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