The Affordable Care Act is a health care law that aims to improve our current health care system by increasing access to health coverage for Americans and introducing new protections for people who have health insurance. If you have health insurance, you will benefit from steps to stop insurance companies from cancelling your coverage if you get sick. The law will also require insurance plans to cover your out-of-pocket costs for many proven preventive and screening services, such as colonoscopies and mammograms, to catch problems at their earliest, most treatable stages.
But maybe you don’t have insurance. Your job might not offer health insurance. Or maybe you have been denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition such as asthma or cancer. The law now offers health plans for people with pre-existing conditions who have had trouble finding care. And it will increase access to coverage for more Americans in 2014. The law helps small businesses pay for health insurance for their employees. And it supports programs that will help increase the number of primary care physicians, nurses, physician assistants and other health care professionals. HealthCareandYou. org, 2012) Millions have already benefited from the Affordable Care Act. In 2011, an estimated 86 million people have used provisions from the act to get preventive care through their insurance plans previously subject to co-pays or deductibles but now receive for free. Approximately 2. 5 million seniors have saved an estimated 1. 5 million dollars thanks to prescription drug discounts included in the health reform. At least 2. 5 million young people can stay on their parents health plan until age 26 if they remain dependents.
Four million small businesses can now claim a tax deduction for providing health insurance; so far over 250,000 small businesses have claimed providing insurance for 2 million workers. (Sally Kohn, 2012) On the other hand, the small businesses are the least likely to offer coverage due to the cost issues and the policy issues that affect the cost and coverage. The cost of coverage has been the number one issue for the past two decades for small businesses. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the most influential and most important thing affecting the cost.
President Obama’s reform act has increased the severity of the problem for small businesses. (Kate Rogers, 2012) “The options are few for small businesses” according to Amanda Austin of the National Federation of Independent Business. “They can either absorb the cost or quit offering coverage, which is the opposite of what the healthcare reform is all about. ” Some small business owners have come to realize it is less expensive to pay the fines than it is to offer health coverage. The costs of medical care have risen sharply in recent years – faster than wages – even faster than inflation.
Individuals, employers and the government have all been hit hard. In 2009, 62% of all personal bankruptcies were at least partially caused by medical expenses. Americans spend more on prescription drugs per person than anyone else in the world. Pharmaceuticals are the fastest growing part of our healthcare spending. Drug companies set prices high in order to earn back the cost of research and generate profits. (Critics argue though that much of the research is funded by the government. ) Even senior citizens covered by the Medicare prescription drug benefit have to pay some of the costs themselves. Hamsher, 2010) Most Americans would agree that some type of change should be made in the health care industry for many reasons including sky-rocketing costs, too many people without insurance, and mediocre health outcomes. According to the Census Bureau in 2009, about 47 million peoples in the United States had no health insurance. (Today it is up to 56 million) Medicaid covers some of the poorest Americans but many workers whose employers don’t offer insurance can’t afford to buy their own. A 2009 Harvard study found that 44,000 deaths each year are associated with the lack of health insurance.
President Obama signed his healthcare reform bill into law in March 2010. According to the President the new law called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will provide health insurance to millions of Americans who now have none. The law will require nearly all Americans to carry health insurance with fines for those who don’t. One of the major issues the public has with the law is the individual mandate which is a requirement that all individuals who can afford healthcare insurance must purchase some minimally comprehensive policy.
In 2008, then presidential candidate Barrack Obama was opposed to the individual mandate. Now it is a major part of his plan. Critics of the law have zeroed in on the individual mandate. How can the government justify requiring its citizens to purchase a particular product from a private company? True, federal law requires people in certain areas to carry flood insurance, and every state but New Hampshire requires drivers to carry liability insurance. But lawyers attacking the health care law say there is a critical difference. People can choose not to drive, and they can choose not to live in a flood plain.
An unavoidable mandate to carry insurance is unprecedented, and – they say – unconstitutional. The law’s defenders, including the Obama administration, agree that the mandate is unprecedented, but they say health care is fundamentally different from other products. People who go without insurance don’t actually forgo medical care. When they get sick or go to the emergency room, they aren’t turned away. They simply incur big bills that in large part will be passed on to the public as hospitals raise rates to cover the shortfall.
In this view, everyone is already part of the healthcare market, because everyone will eventually require health care services. The health care law and the individual mandate simply regulate the payment method. The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether the so-called mandate can be separated from other parts of the law. Some defenders of the law say that without the mandate, another key part of the law – the requirement that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing illnesses – cannot survive. That’s because many people would simply wait until they fell sick to buy insurance.
However, the defenders say many sections of the law are unrelated and should remain intact even if the justices find the individual mandate to be unconstitutional. Some critics of the law say that if any part is found unconstitutional, the entire law should be thrown out. (Jeanne Sahadi, 2012) What happens if the court strikes down the individual mandate but leaves the rest of the Act in place? Individuals would have no obligation to carry insurance but insurers would be bound by the law to accept applicants regardless of medical condition and limit what they charge their oldest and sickest customers.
Studies suggest that premiums would jump by 10 to 30 percent. (Foxnews. com, 2012) Being insured helps safeguard against pricey medical bills. However, a report released Tuesday from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services suggests that the act won’t limit national health spending. In fact, it predicts that spending will skyrocket after a brief recession-induced dip. Total health spending in the United States will grow at near-historic low rates until 2014 and then increase as provisions of the health care reform take effect, according the report.
Between 2011 and 2021, national health spending is forecast to grow by an average of 5. 7% slightly more than the U. S. economy. How the high court’s decision might affect the CMS forecast, if at all, is unclear. Like everyone else, the agency is waiting to see how the Supreme Court rules, said Sean Keehan, a senior economist in the CMS actuary office. (Jeanne Sahadi, 2012) Why is this mandate being challenged? Well, the legal question on the individual mandate centers on whether such a regulation is permissible under the Commerce Clause of the U. S.
Constitution, which allows the federal government to regulate interstate activity. Health reform opponents contend that the decision not to do something-namely, not buy health insurance – is economic inactivity, rather than activity, and therefore not a behavior the federal government can regulate. Supporters of the reform argue that the decision to not purchase health insurance has an economic effect. The individual without coverage, for example, may not have the money to pay for an emergency room visit, sticking hospitals or taxpayers with the bill.
As of today, the Supreme Court is deciding whether or not the law violates the United States Constitution leaving Americans in a state of confusion.
(2012). HealthCareandYou. org. Hamsher, J. (2010). MFA. Procon. org. Hannah Weinberger. (2012). Basics: Health care reform issues. CNN. Jeanne Sahadi. (2012). Health spending growth to stay low, then jump. CNN Money. Kate Rogers. (2012). Healthcare a Top Small Business Issue. FoxBusiness. com. Sally Kohn. (2012). 5 Reasons Obamacare is already good for you. FoxNews. com.