The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare) is a health care law signed by President Barrack Obama in 2010 that marked a major turning point on the delivery of health care services in America (Sipes 18). The law was enacted to improve the accessibility of health care services by citizens. Its objectives are to increase access to health insurance, to improve the quality of health care, to lower health costs, and to decrease the number of uninsured Americans (Tate 22). The law introduced several mechanisms in order to ensure that its objectives are attained.
Examples of these mechanisms include government subsidies and insurance exchanges (Sipes 21). The law has been a topic of heated debates since its enactment in 2010, especially due to its impact on public and political policies. Despite the prevalent criticisms, Obama Care has several advantages compared to its disadvantages. Americans have a lot to benefit from the law than they have to lose from it. Therefore, Obama Care is an important and beneficial law that lowers health care costs, increases access to health insurance, improves the quality of health care, and fosters the growth of the healthcare sector.
Advantages of the Affordable Care Act
First, Obama Care makes health care services affordable and accessible by Americans (Sipes 23). This is made possible by its numerous mechanisms that lower the overall healthcare costs and make insurance accessible to millions of Americans. In addition, it makes preventive carefree. Millions of uninsured Americans will be able to access high-quality and affordable health insurance (Anderson par. 2).
The law has put certain mechanisms in place that have expanded Medicaid, facilitated the insurance of employees by employers, and created the Health Insurance Marketplace for comparisons of different insurance premiums available to citizens (Tate 24). People can sue the Health insurance Marketplace to get assistance on out-of-pocket costs in order to lower the amount of money individuals pay for health insurance costs. This is possible through the Cost Sharing Reduction Subsidies (CSR) that are facilitated by the law (Tate 24). These benefits make the law indispensable in improving the lives of Americans with regard to their health and quality of life.
Second, the law will increase the number of insured individuals and thus improve their health (Sipes 27). This is facilitated by two mechanisms that include the expansion of Medicaid and the creation of state-based insurance exchanges. The expansion of Medicaid enables more people to access insurance, while the state-based insurance exchanges enable businesses and individuals to purchase health insurance plans at subsidized rates. The original estimates released by the Congressional Budget Office revealed that the law would probably lower the number of uninsured Americans by 32 million by the year 2019 (Tate 26).
The estimates also showed that the legislation would increase the number of insured people who are not covered by Medicare by approximately 11%. The legislation does not cover certain groups that include illegal immigrants, people who are not covered by Medicaid, and people who reside in states that oppose the expansion of Medicaid. The legislation aims to improve the quality of people’s lives and lower the number of medical bankruptcies cases. The law also allows children to access insurance and health care services under their parents’ plans until they attain the age of 26 (Sipes 28).
Third, the legislation contains several cost-cutting measures that lower the overall cost of health care (Tate 31). According to government reports, the legislation has resulted in the lowest health care price inflation in the last five decades. In addition, it resulted in the lowest health care spending in several decades because of cost-cutting measures. The law requires large employers to offer insurance cover to their employees. In addition, gender cannot be used to determine the amount of premium an individual will pay. Finally, the law protects citizens by giving them the freedom to repeal any decision made by an insurance company (Tate 31). Moreover, an insurance company is required to give an updated and comprehensible report about the coverage and benefits that a citizen will enjoy by buying into any of their health plans.
The legislation has put mechanisms in place to protect citizens from being dropped by their insurance providers when they get sick. In addition, they cannot be dropped for making an honest mistake during the application process. On the other hand, an insurance provider cannot charge more for a sick client or deny any citizen coverage or treatment on the basis of a sickness (Sipes 33). Insurance providers cannot raise premiums because a client gets sick and cannot apply any pre-existing conditions to drop anyone. The legislation prevents insurance companies from hiking premiums without proper legal justification and facilitates the use of premium dollars on providing health care (Tate 33).
Another aspect of the law that makes it beneficial to citizens is its tenet that requires all major medical coverage to fall under minimum essential coverage. Therefore, any insurance coverage must have ObamaCare’s protections and provide essential health coverage. In addition, it must not have annual or lifetime dollar limits in order to make it accessible to the poor from low-income families.
Disadvantages of the Affordable Care Act
One of the main disadvantages is that many people who had private health insurance had their plans nullified because many of the plans failed to meet the requirements of the legislation’s essential health benefits (Tate 37).
This has resulted in the high costs of replacing their plans. On the other hand, others could lose their insurance plans that are catered for by their employers. Many businesses could take advantage o the legislation by opting to pay the fine than insuring their employees. A short-term consequence of ObamaCare is the high costs of health care because of increased accessibility, which means that more people will receive free preventive care and other services (Sipes 38). However, this should not deter the im0pememntation of the legislation that has a long-term scope. The costs of healthcare will decrease after the Act has been implemented fully. More accessibility means that health care professionals will have more workload that will lead to burnout and job dissatisfaction (Anderson par. 11).
Another disadvantage is the introduction of new taxes in order to cater for the increased access (Tate 39). The taxes were levied mainly on high-income earners and the healthcare industry. The individual mandate and the employer mandate taxes will affect many Americans in significant ways. According to the individual mandate, any American who is able to purchase insurance should either pay a fee or get an exemption. This makes the process of filing taxes more complicated. On the other hand, many people barely live the Federal Poverty Level. This means that they do not get any assistance because the federal government considers them able to purchase insurance. The cost of offering insurance will rise because insurance companies are required by the legislation to cover even sick people (Sipes 41).
A large percentage of people will be required to obtain coverage or pay a certain monthly fee in order to ensure that they are fully covered and do not only buy insurance when they need it. According to the legislation, coverage can be obtained only during annual open enrollment periods that occur at certain periods (Tate 41). In case an individual forgets to pay their premiums, they will not be covered until they pay the premiums, which can only happen during the next open enrolment. This will disadvantage many people. Finally, the expansion of Medicaid is implemented using funds from the federal and state governments. This means that people from states that oppose the expansion will be left out without coverage options.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is healthcare legislation that was passed in 2010 to increase the quality of healthcare and increase the accessibility to health insurance by Americans. Since its enactment, the legislation has elicited heated debates regarding its advantages and disadvantages. Opponents argue that it will increase healthcare costs in the short term, increase the overall costs of offering insurance because sick people are covered, and necessitate the introduction of new taxes to cater for the increased coverage. On the other hand, proponents argue that it will improve the quality of health care, increase access to health insurance, and improve the overall health of Americans.
Government reports have shown that legislation has decreased health care price inflation. In addition, it has encouraged stability in the issuance of insurance because insurance companies cannot hike premiums without legal reasons. Despite the raging debates, Americans have more to gain from the law than they have to lose. Therefore, the Affordable Care Act is good legislation for American citizens.
Anderson, Amy. The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on the Health Care Workforce. 2014. Web.
Tate, Nick. ObamaCare Survival Guide: The Affordable Care Act and What it means for You and Your Healthcare. New York: Humanix books, 2012. Print.
Sipes, sally. The Truth about ObamaCare. New York: Regnery Publishing, 2010. Print.