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ObamaCare also called the Affordable Care Act is reform legislation that aimed at changing the health insurance and the entire healthcare system of the United States. The Act also gives patient protection provisions contained in more than one thousand pages. The purpose of the Act is to give the patients more rights and protections while expanding access to inexpensive healthcare to millions of uninsured Americans. The ACA was officially signed into law on March 23, 2010. The court sustained the constitutionality of the Act in 2012. However, in the ruling, the law was amended to allow individual States to avoid the expansion of access to Medicaid. Under this law, persons that do not qualify for breaks are required to acquire a minimum amount of healthcare insurance. So, is obamacare good or bad?

Provisions of the ObamaCare

As it has been mentioned, the law contains close to one thousand pages of terms and conditions with several other additional regulations. This large document is sure to cause confusion even among the accomplished readers. Given that very few people have read the provisions of the Act, there is misinformation regarding the enabling laws. Indeed, there was a public uproar that led to the intervention of the court to rule on its legality and constitutionality. The court upheld the Act except the one provision stated above. The provisions of the ACA focus on achieving an improved national health care, providing adequate healthcare, offering reasonable choices to the uninsured individuals or those that are uncomfortable with the current schemes, and reforming the insurance services. Besides, the law seeks to keep insurers and care providers honest by putting regulations on how they operate as well as providing incentives like tax exemptions to small business to enable them to cover their employees. Finally, the law ensures the protection of the patient rights as well as compelling the insurers and health care providers to grant accessible health care to persons that were denied the same before the implementation of the law.

Origin of the ACA

Because of misinformation, many people attribute the reform to President Obama. The truth is that the concept dates back to 1989 when the Heritage Foundation implemented the plan. Governor Mitt Romney had initiated a similar idea in his Massachusetts State. The current provisions are founded on the law by Governor Romney. The ACA has been in discussion with various bills and forums being presented by both sides of the Congress for the last few decades.

The healthcare system in the U.S has been, before the signing of the ACA into law, marred with inconsistent policies that hindered many Americans in accessing insurance. The most vulnerable, those with low incomes and persons with disabilities may have been denied health cover for a myriad of reasons. It is possible that the women may have paid more for coverage than did men and the senior citizens may have been deprived of various cure options available to younger people. It was easy for the insurers to drop a patient from the plan on a technicality like discrepancies in paperwork without warning or recourse.

The purpose of the ACA is to rectify these inconsistencies in the healthcare industry in addition to increasing protections of the consumer rights. With the law in place, the insurers are compelled to offer plans to all people irrespective of their pre-existing conditions. Besides, the costs of healthcare insurance are now regulated strictly, and this enables tens of millions of citizens to access health care. Additionally, under this cover, more basic treatments that could not be ordinarily covered by private insurance are now covered. It was estimated that before the implementation of the law, there were close to 45 million Americans without any health cover, a majority of who were middle-income families, women who had to pay more than men and senior older people. ObamaCare provides these individuals with the protection to prevent general illnesses and conditions. The law further standardizes coverage as well as benefits and the regulation of insurers and care providers.

The Impact of ObamaCare

To understand the effect of the law and the impact it has had on Americans, one must realize that the ACA has provided an extra option for buying health insurance. One can purchase insurance using the same methods that were available like private companies, Medicare, Medicaid or through the employer in addition to the State insurance market and the federal government marketplace. Small businesses with less than 50 full-time employees can use these online marketplaces to purchase insurance for their staff. The businesses are eligible for tax breaks of up to 35%of premiums.

This law provides that one must obtain the health cover or face a fine on his or her annual tax returns. The fee for not complying with the law is called the “individual mandate” provision. However, the Supreme Court ruled it to be a tax and is therefore subjected to the collection by the IRS. A person without insurance for less than three months will not pay the penalty; however, they must get coverage before the fourth month of not being insured.

The law recognizes that some people will not afford to buy the insurance even if it is priced much lower than other insurance options. It is estimated that about 30 million Americans fall into this category. However, the government has devised various financial assistance mechanisms to pay the cost of mandated insurance.

Benefits and Cost Assistance
While a majority of Americans will keep their current insurance and employer-based plans, the low-income earners will purchase the sponsored and federally controlled coverage through the marketplaces.

Americans are to choose among the three forms of cost assistance including Premium Tax Credits, Cost Sharing Reduction, and Medicaid to insure their health. Besides, the law provides for other rights and protections that aim to achieve the overall purpose of affordable health insurance. Such consumer protections include the requirement for insurers and health care providers to provide care to persons with pre-existing conditions, provision of free preventive cure and abolition of discrimination on any basis. Additionally, women health services and better care for the elderly is now guaranteed unlike before when women had to contribute more than men for coverage of primary treatment. Another benefit is the middle-class tax cuts for a majority of citizens that make less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level.

Medicaid and Medicare Reforms
The Obamacare has expanded Medicaid to include more people into the program. There are an additional 15.9 million citizens, who did not previously qualify for the program but also did not afford insurance, enrolled into the program since the ACA became operational. The expansion seeks to achieve a wider coverage, improved benefits, prevention of corruption, reduce costs and better care for the participants. Following the ruling of the Supreme Court that gave the States the liberty to opt-out of the expansion, 31 states have approved the Expansion while 19 others have not.

The ACA seeks to restructure Medicare by improving the benefits and patient rights and protections. Individuals that enroll in Medicare should expect better treatment, coverage among other reforms as they will enjoy the same benefits as those enrolled in other types of insurance.

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