Big changes are coming to health care in 2014. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will soon affect all of us. Signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, the Act’s open enrollment ends on March 31.
The Supreme Court controversially upheld the law on June 28, 2012.
Much of the population feels that the law is unconstitutional. Can the government really force people to buy health care? Apparently, yes.
One might think that health care is universally important to everyone, but that’s not always the case.
Many young, healthy individuals don’t believe it’s necessary because they are, in fact, in good health. For them, the cost can outweigh the benefits.
One trip to an emergency room, even for something minor, may change their opinion. Today the average emergency room visit costs more than $1,200 — 40 percent more than the average month’s rent in the nation. A doctor’s visit is only a fraction of that cost but getting into a doctor’s office in a timely manner is rare.
Although the country is still divided on Obamacare, the increase in enrollment continues due to an enrollment deadline and fine of the higher amount of $95 per adult per year, or one percent of your taxable income, for not signing up by March 31.
There are exemptions to this policy, but the law was designed to force young, healthy people to buy insurance. Obamacare has made some important movements toward an improvement in America’s health care. Allowing individuals to stay on their parent’s insurance until they’re 26 has been a huge advantage to young people considering the current state of the economy.
A major part of the story is that Obamacare will allow people to get health care outside of the workplace. All Americans will benefit from the new rights and protections, like guaranteed coverage of pre-existing conditions and the elimination of gender discrimination.
However, the positive steps making health care more successful have also been marred by missteps and false promises.
One of the key promises the president made that would allow individuals to keep their current policies if they were satisfied with them was pulled out, only to have it put back in place for a temporary two-year period as a political ploy to aid Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections.
The U.S. government recently announced that 4.2 million Americans have enrolled in private health care plans since Oct. 1 under the new law. Even if a flood of Americans sign up over the next month, that number is unlikely to reach seven million, which was the original estimate for how many people would get insurance during the first year of Obamacare.
Of that number, it’s unknown as to how many of those people are newly-insured or were already insured.
Two percent of firms in the U.S. have more than 50 full-time employees and will have to choose to insure full-time workers or pay a fine. To avoid this, some businesses are cutting employees, further weakening the economy.
The Congressional Budget Office alleges the law will cut full-time employment by 2 million people, although a percentage of this loss is likely to be from individuals walking away from the job they had simply to get insurance in the first place.
An argument made from both sides was that the law is a hand-out to insurance companies. Companies that already get fat on residents of this nation.
Health insurance companies stand to make billions, despite a loss on profit per plan, since they will be insuring millions of new Americans.
That said, the new law does require insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on healthcare and less than 20 percent on advertising, overhead, and CEO salaries or provide customer rebates.
Unfortunately, there’s no crystal ball to perfectly predict the long-term impact of Obamacare.
Although many reforms are needed for this law, it seems the most important one should be to make it less expensive and less burdensome to obtain insurance for those who don’t qualify for subsidies. Allowing broader plan design, lower actuarial values, and fewer minimum benefits is a good place to start. Sadly, the majority of this law focuses on making sure people are covered instead of addressing the cost of care in the first place.