Ever since its inception, Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, has drawn both applause and criticism. While many see it as a large step toward a universal health care system similar to those in place in other countries, others consider it as government interference and infringement upon personal choice and rights. On June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court declared that Obamacare was constitutional, even the contentious individual mandate, which requires all Americans to carry health insurance or face a stiff tax penalty.
As the debate goes on in a dramatic election year political climate, many people are still confused about Obamacare, what it does and does not do, and how it affects them personally. The pros and cons of the act are outlined in the sections below.
• An estimated 30 million Americans do not currently have health insurance. The Affordable Care Act will extend coverage to a larger group of people who are either unemployed or do not receive coverage by an employer.
• Insurance companies are not allowed to deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition and cannot stop coverage when someone becomes ill.
• Children can be included on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26.
• States will receive aid from the federal government to allow low-income people to become enrolled in the Medicaid program.
• Obamacare will close the so-called “doughnut-hole” gap in Medicaid coverage by the year 2020.
• School-based programs for teen pregancy reduction along with health centers will receive $125 million each year.
• Insurance exchanges will be set up in each state to assist people in finding the best deal on private insurance.
• An appeals process outside of the insurance system will be available to those who are denied coverage.
• The act will drastically reduce the number of bankruptcies caused by the cost of extensive health issues.
• The government will be involved in the medical business, which may be considered an intrusion by some.
• Even though nearly 20 million people will be covered by Medicaid or an alternate program, millions will still have no health coverage.
• Five million senior citizens will no longer qualify for Medicare Advantage by the year 2019.
• Funding to Medicare will be reduced by $530 billion.
• There will be a large tax increase, especially on those who earn higher incomes. Also, some uninsured people may find the tax penalty more financially feasible than obtaining insurance.
• Since states have no choice but to accept the federally mandated insurance program, Obamacare violates the rights of those states.
• There is speculation that those who do not pay the penalty tax for not having insurance will go to jail.
The Affordable Care Act is intended to bring health care to all Americans and to ease the financial burden on future generations. It will undergo continued scrutiny by both political parties and will probably see some adjustments before going fully into effect in 2014.