The American Healthcare Act, otherwise known as the ACA or Obamacare, has changed how America handles healthcare forever. While many argue whether or not the ACA revolutionized the healthcare industry, it is inarguable that the act changed how healthcare is delivered, received, and even paid for across the entire country. Major changes have been proposed by the act in an effort to provide universal healthcare coverage to Americans; each proposal has been followed by its individual consequences or benefits on behalf of constituents in need of healthcare.
To begin, the ACA mandated the federal and state governments would share the cost of insuring the disadvantaged or disenfranchised. For example, the amount of federal funds each state receives is dependent upon how much money constituents in that state are drawing from Medicaid. Medicaid coverage is also set to continue expanding based on the partnership between state and federal funds on congruence with ensuring the poor and underprivileged. Under the Affordable Healthcare Act, this expansion is covered almost entirely through federal funds, leaving state funds free to continue helping local constituents.
The Affordable Healthcare Act does not only seek to provide healthcare, essentially for free, for the disenfranchised. It also seeks to provide an incentive for those who can afford insurance to buy it when available to them. The ACA offers subsidies, for example, to individuals using the established healthcare marketplace who are also making under $48,000 annual salary. The subsidy is intended to help the individual pay for the necessary insurance, thereby stimulating the program while continuing to keep more Americans safe and healthy. Moreover, subsidies are individualized based on the individual’s income but also based on how much insurance costs on average in their zip code and surrounding zip codes. Finally, rather than have each patient go through the lengthy process of sending in a rebate, often negating any real monetary benefit on behalf of the recipient, the ACA proposes the subsidy be automatically applied to monthly insurance bills. This technique avoids using a rebate all together, giving the patient the entire intended benefit. The technique is estimated to encourage more than 30,000 new patients to seek insurance each year since the ACA’s enactment and has made insurance affordable for over half the disadvantaged population in the country. Negatively, the ACA also demands those who do not seek insurance pay a penalty fee as a portion of their taxes. This also is supposed to act as an incentive to purchase insurance, thereby avoiding the penalty fee. However, the program has overlooked the fact that if a person cannot afford insurance, they cannot afford a penalty fee.
Other, far more dramatic proposals offered by the ACA concerned how a patient or client was able to procure insurance, and when. The Affordable Care Act allows clients to seek medical and health insurance even after they have fallen ill or experienced an injury. It has effectively made it illegal for an insurance company or place of business providing insurance to discriminate against anybody seeking insurance. As a result, those with preexisting conditions who were typically denied insurance based on their health are finally able to receive the healthcare and the insurance they have always needed. Many feared ill consumers would be charged more for insurance in an effort for the insurance industry to maintain its profit margin. The ACA made it illegal for insurers to overcharge the sick simply for being sick.
In addition, insurers are no longer allowed to impose fees or limit lifetime coverage based on current health or projected lifespan. The act has also made it illegal for insurance companies to charge aging consumers nearly three times more than younger consumers. The healthcare act also instigated the rule that all insurers must not only meet the needs of consumers regarding their physical health but also their mental and reproductive health, as well. Basic coverage now included maternity care, mental health coverage, and access to prescription medication at a cost in many circumstances.
The proposed changes are all crucial in bringing universal healthcare to the United States. While the ACA is not representative of what universal healthcare actually is, it is a step forward in the right direction. It shows effort and initiative in its command to protect the consumer or the patient, rather than the insurance company. Unfortunately, however, it seems many Americans have begun to believe what the ACA delivers is what universal healthcare really is. The efforts of the ACA are sometimes rendering the idea of universal healthcare useless because Americans believe they already have it. This may stand as a testament to how poor healthcare services in America were prior to the Affordable Healthcare Act. Affording consumers with basic rights to mental health resources or maternity care was a luxury, and is still not something people take for granted. Regardless of the concept, it has allowed people to form, it is still paving a path for change in the United States healthcare system, making universal healthcare more possible than ever before.
In sum, the ACA has proposed many things that are beginning to change the face of healthcare in America forever. By offering a variety of policies within a range of prices, more Americans are able to afford insurance. The use of additional subsidies and access to health insurance even after one has fallen ill allow for the ACA to have a tremendous and positive impact on healthcare delivery itself. The notion of universal healthcare that it has brought with it may be difficult to combat when real universal healthcare is implemented, and this is something that should be considered at that time.