The United States currently sits with an international ranking of 37th in the world for healthcare. But with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act earlier this year, it is well on its way to improving health coverage and moving up among other nations.
The bill was a main focus for President Obama’s agenda during his term, and this legislation reflects his health-care policies. This reform has strengthened our health-care system as a whole, with national health-care spending and premiums rising at a much slower rate than before.
There are roughly 50 million people in the United States who are uninsured — 16.3 percent of our national population.
With this reform, every single American will be guaranteed health coverage. Not only that, but this bill also protects Americans against insurance companies by eliminating discriminatory practices often used by insurance agencies.
For the population as a whole, the bill no longer allows insurance companies to cancel policies if someone becomes sick, deny coverage to anyone with preexisting conditions, charge people with preexisting conditions a higher cost, or charge women more than men.
The legislation bans lifetime caps, meaning there cannot be a limit on the amount of money an insurance company will pay out in medical benefits over someone’s entire life, and it also ends annual limits on coverage. Insurance companies are now also required to provide preventive care coverage on all new private health plans, free of charge.
Young adults benefit in several ways. The bill extends coverage for young adults until they reach the age of 26, allowing them to stay on their family’s health plan until that age. Insurance companies also cannot provide fewer benefits to adult children still on their family’s plan, nor can parents be charged more for adult children than younger children on their plans.
Senior citizens benefit greatly from the Affordable Care Act, and this bill does indeed help Medicare. This healthcare system strengthens Medicare by cracking down on fraud, abuse, and waste, adding eight years to the expected solvency of the Medicare trust fund. Similarly, crackdowns in 2010 and 2011 resulted in $5.4 billion being returned to Medicare.
The bill lowers out of pocket prescription medication costs, improves long term care services, and protects the private information of senior customers in order to protect them against identity theft. Additionally, new Medicare advantage plans cannot charge more than original Medicare pays for certain services, and seniors qualify for annual wellness visits and different types of screenings at no extra cost.
Small businesses receive benefits, as well. Some states will offer plans, called exchanges, tailored to meet the needs of smaller businesses. These exchanges, provided to businesses with up to 100 employees, offer a wide range of coverage plans, and they are required to provide essential medical benefits. Tax credits will be available to these businesses to aid in paying for health insurance for employees, and the bill creates grants to help these businesses provide workplace wellness programs.
There are of course issues that have come along with this bill, such as the requirement of businesses and institutions, with the narrow exception of strictly religious institutions, to provide contraceptive coverage to employees, and the taxation aspect of this bill.
There is also a stark contrast between this policy, and that of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who advocates for a voucher health-care and social security system. That policy would not, however, adequately protect American’s against insurance companies and could likely lead to a less regulated health-care system, which may result in lower quality healthcare and higher costs.
President Obama’s healthcare policy greatly benefits the American society as a whole, and it will prove to be an excellent reform for America in the long haul. Everyone should examine this topic, as well as the presidential candidates’ health-care ideas and policies to learn more about health care in America.