The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as "Obamacare", has faced plenty of opposition since it was signed into law in 2010. Despite the fact that 49 million Americans have no health insurance coverage at all, opponents see enacting the bill as a loss to the country, citing job loss and increased taxes. One must wonder how much of the opposition to the bill is born in true concern for the well-being of our citizens, and how much is simply political infighting and propaganda―especially when you take pandering and hyperbole out of the conversation and look at the hard, verifiable facts.
Did You Know?According to data released by California Health Benefit Exchange, Obamacare will increase individual-market premiums in California by as much as 146 percent.
Insurance PremiumsThe bill requires insurance companies to cover preventive care including mammograms and colonoscopies, which prevents the need for expensive treatments down the line. Insurance companies can also no longer drop you when you become ill and actually need their services, and they cannot offer different rates or deny coverage based on gender, health, or income. In 2014, a portion of the bill will go into effect that states that insurance may cost no more than 8% of your income to qualify as "affordable", and insurance companies must currently be able to fully justify rate increases of more than 10%. So, if your rates have recently skyrocketed, it may be illegal. In any case, you are welcome to keep the coverage you have if you don’t want to change over to the Exchange program, but those who choose not to get coverage at all will face a tax penalty.
Medicaid and MedicareThe ACA will not replace Medicaid or Medicare―in fact, it makes them better. The bill closes the Medicare Part D donut hole, and increases payments to doctors that accept Medicaid. The pay increase could be over 70%, which will encourage more doctors to accept Medicaid, increasing access to health care for Medicaid recipients. Good news, because the bill also expands Medicaid to cover the poorest 15 million citizens―it was originally even wider, but some states refused to accept the expansion even though the program is 90% funded by the federal government. Call your congressman. The fact is that, ACA cuts Medicare waste to the tune of $716 billion, which then gets put back into Obamacare as a whole.
Small BusinessesObamacare is not bad for small businesses, and employers who are reducing staff hours or firing employees to get around the health insurance requirements are either woefully misinformed or trying to make a political point at the expense of their workers. Small businesses will receive tax credits if they offer private insurance, and only those with more than 50 employees are required to provide insurance for full-time workers in the first place. By 2014, businesses with 25 or fewer employees will be compensated for 50% of the cost of private insurance in the form of tax breaks. If cost is still an issue, employers can always use the exchange program themselves to obtain insurance for employees. The only small businesses that must actually change under the bill are those with over 50 employees who don’t offer insurance to full-timers―that comes out to roughly 0.2% of all small businesses. There is a small tax increase (0.9%) to help fund the program, but only about 3% of small businesses are affected.
Healthcare SystemObamacare regulates health insurance, not health care. That said, there are measures in place to induce health care providers to provide a higher standard of care at affordable rates. Hospitals will be evaluated on the quality of their care, with an up to 1% Medicare funding loss or gain at stake, and doctors will be rewarded for quality versus quantity. The bill also helps reduce hospital price-gouging through the expansion of Medicaid and Medicare, which already work to keep costs reasonable―it also provides resources to improve community health centers to increase access to quality health care to those who cannot afford it. The portion of the bill that requires free preventive health care is only one of the measures that reduce health care costs by eliminating waste and overspending within the system.
Overall, the bill is good news for everyone. Currently, 60% personal bankruptcies happen because of medical debt, and the ACA works to eliminate this. Over the next 20 years, the program will cut the deficit by more than a trillion dollars by drastically reducing health care costs. So far, 25 states have opted out, despite the fact that they’ll have to spend the money anyway, only it would be mostly covered by the federal government under the bill―this is what smacks of political infighting. Allowing their constituents to die for lack of health care just to oppose the other party is the way some politicians operate now. Give your representatives a call and ask them why.