In pursuit of social and economic justice in modern, capitalist societies, it is evident that ideology has played an important role. Yet, if we are determined to make any progress in this incredibly important effort, we have to try to transcend limitations imposed by ideology and political demagogy, and establish grounds from which to carry out a rational debate on some of the most important issues in our societies. One of the crucial issues of today, as seen by Jimenez (2010) is the issue of health insurance and availability of quality health services to all the members of the society.
In this area, the phenomenon of Obama Care has been one of the best examples of how ideology and politics can cause a lot of problems on the way towards establishing a just and more humane society. This essay is a fact-based analysis of the intentions behind and effect of the US health care reform of 2010, known under the name of Obama Care. The social problem that got its solution in the form of Obama Care was essentially the fact that the American health care industry, prior to the instatement of this law was in a deep crisis.
Around 50 million people had no health insurance, which meant that in case they got sick they would have to cover all the costs of treatment, which can be measured in tens of thousands of dollars. Further, people with pre-existing conditions were disallowed from getting health insurance because there was a chance that the companies would not profit from them. Also, companies were able to cancel the contract with a person for almost arbitrary reasons in cases when people were in greatest need of health insurance (Obama Care Facts).
All in all, the situation was catastrophic, and urgent change was needed. The Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by Barack Obama in 2010, is essentially a piece of legislation that aimed at solving the above mentioned problems in the health industry. The target population of this policy was the working poor and the unemployed who had no way of paying for treatment in case a member of their family fell sick and needed medical help.
The problem with health insurance in the US arose with the increase in unemployment and drop in the income of middle class and working class citizens, which had its consequences in the increase in the number of people who were not able to provide medical help for themselves and their families. The effects of this policy can be said to be largely positive though the situation is still far from satisfactory. In 2011, the percentage of people who had no health insurance dropped from 16. 3 to 15. 7 percent of the general population, which meant that 1. 3 million people got insured in just one year.
Companies no longer have the right to cancel a contract with a client except in a case of fraud on the client’s part. Moreover, Obama Care assured the coverage of prevention treatments such as mammography and colonoscopy, which now saves millions of dollars on treatment of breast and colon cancer – the two most widespread forms of this deadly disease. Also, the premium rates are now being decreased for the majority of working Americans (Obama Care Facts). The instatement of this Act was attacked by the members of the Republican Party and rightwing commentators as socialist and against the free market.
They also argued that this policy would mean a major increase in taxes. This would result in slowing down the economy and loss of jobs (Dubay 2011); however, this law actually leaves the freedom of choice and competition intact because people still have the right to choose between providers of insurance and decide what the best option. Also, there were some new taxation to cover the expenses, but it affected only the top three percent of small businesses. This will have a slight increase in taxes which is measured in fractions of a percent.
In addition, it offered a tax relief for those small companies who decided to pay for their workers insurance under Obama Care (Affordable Care Act Summary). The impact of this piece of legislation on the Federal budget and citizens’ income is also expected to be positive. For example, Obama Care decreases the government spending by 716 billions of dollars by adjusting the policies under Medicare and Medicaid. Furthermore, families whose income is below the national average will see a decrease of 60 per cent in their health care insurance premiums.
Finally, there is going to be a boost in health care industry with new job openings and the increase in revenue which is already around 70 percent at some clinics (Obama Care Facts). Although it is a major improvement in the struggle for social justice, this policy is far from being a perfect solution. There are still somewhere around 48 million American citizens who have not been covered by this policy (Obama Care Facts), and although the plans are to slowly include them as well, it is a striking fact that such a large number of people in the richest country in the world can live without health insurance.
One need not look very far in order to see that a system that provides universal health care is possible, because Canada, the closest neighbor of the US, has that kind of system, and most of the European countries have it as well, even those that do not belong to the most developed countries. The amount of controversy that this policy caused is a sign of just how great an obstacle ideological and political misrepresentations and falsifications of reality can be, in the struggle for a more just and humane society that treats its citizens with dignity. In that light, Obama Care is certainly a great step forward.