PCP ObamaCare ForCaitlin McLaren - 4B Chemical
Posted on: March 12, 2017
Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act (ACA). From the name to the content to its effects, there is probably no piece of legislation more divisive or more generally misunderstood. Arguments range from conspiracy theorists raving about non-existent “death panels” to dry economic breakdowns. Why do Republicans seem to hate Obamacare so much?
Well, in the first place, it might be because Obama used their idea: the ACA was based largely on a health care law Mitt Romney signed when he was governor of Massachusetts, though Romney maintained afterwards that he did not support Obamacare and thought it had failed as a federal law. That the Republican party was so adamantly opposed to everything Obama and the Democrats did that they came out so vehemently against their own idea when he suggested it says a great deal.
Certainly, the ACA is not perfect. Some people lost their insurance due to their plans not meeting the requirements laid out by the ACA, and many others found that their premiums went up. Some businesses, unable to cover their employees’ health insurance, reduced full-time employees to part-time to avoid needing to cover them. New taxes introduced by the ACA can also be problematic. However, the benefits of Obamacare outweigh the drawbacks, and it is certainly not helpful to demolish a partial solution to a problem before finding a complete solution.
For a long time, lack of health insurance has been a serious issue in America. While estimates vary, the ACA brought insurance to between ten and twenty million Americans, and pulling out the rug from under all these people could be catastrophic. The extension of Medicaid under the ACA meant that health care became more available to low-income individuals (those making under 133% of the Federal Poverty Level). Those making between 133% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level qualified for various tax credits and subsidies, making health insurance up to 60% cheaper for them. Small businesses (those with less than 25 employees) received tax credits to pay for up to 50% of the employer health insurance they offer. Overall, Obamacare is good for low-income and middle-class Americans – those the Republican party claims to be concerned about.
One controversial issue was the effects of the ACA on women. The ACA banned women from being charged more than men for health insurance, which is important considering that childbirth requires considerable medical attention. Some male Republicans stated that men should not have to subsidize women’s health care, which is absurd: everyone’s mother required health and maternity care, and better maternal health care is incredibly important for the long-term health of a population. Issues which ultimately stem from poor maternal health care can affect both mother and child for years to come, putting more costs onto society. Another source of controversy comes from conservative or religious groups who do not wish to offer their female employees insurance that covers contraception. As these are usually the same groups who decry single mothers and out-of-wedlock pregnancies, their objections seem hypocritical.
Overall, most aspects of Obamacare are popular with Americans. One of the biggest problems with health insurance prior to the ACA was individuals being denied health insurance due to pre-existing conditions. Sometimes this denial was unjust, and it always caused serious financial issues when these people became sick. The ACA banned this practice, a move supported by nearly 70% of Americans. According to a 2012 Kaiser Health survey, 51% of Americans support the government requirements for a basic healthcare package, 70% support the Medicare expansions, and 54% support the Employer Mandate requiring employers of more than 50 employees to provide health insurance for at least 95% of their employees and dependents up to the age of 26. 80% of Americans support tax credits for small businesses being used to help them pay for employee insurance. Over 70% support Obamacare’s financial help for middle and low-income uninsured Americans, with 53% supporting the increased tax on upper-income individuals to pay for Medicare.
These numbers mean that, overall, many aspects of the ACA are supported by the American people. So why is it so controversial? For a lot of average people, their issue is the individual mandate, which requires individuals to have health insurance. Some people who don’t feel that they need health insurance feel that this is unduly burdensome. Others simply bristle at the thought of the government telling them what to do regarding their healthcare. However, the individual mandate is necessary in order for the other, more popular, parts of the ACA to function. That is basically how insurance works: premiums from customers who do not need payouts pay for those who do. If the ACA only made health care more accessible to the sick without mandating that everyone have insurance, it would not be financially viable.
Currently, many Republicans are arguing that Obamacare is not financially viable even as is. If that is the case, they should find the problems and fix them, not eliminate the entire law in order to lower taxes for the rich while throwing all the people who need it under a bus. Millions have benefited from the ACA, and repealing it without guaranteeing that all those people will still be able to afford the health care they need is unconscionable.