Affordable Care Act
President Obama enacted the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, in March 2010. The main focus of the Act was to transform how hospitals and primary physicians operate financially, clinically, and technologically, in order to make health care more affordable, more accessible, and also to improve patients’ health outcomes. In a nutshell, the Act puts in place health reforms that place individual health care back into the hands of the consumers.
Major Goals of the Affordable Care Act
The main goal of the Affordable Care Act is to provide a universal guarantee of access to health care facilities. This goal is achieved through shared responsibility among employers, the government, and the individuals. Another goal of the ACA is to provide protections that guarantee affordable health care coverage for all citizens from birth through to retirement. In addition, the Act was designed to improve the quality, affordability, and fairness of the overall health-care system.
The Affordable Care Act also aims at improving the value, efficiency, and quality of the health care system while eradicating wasteful spending in the system and making it more transparent and accountable to the entire population. Through its provisions, there will be longer-term investment in preventative and primary health care making both more efficient and affordable to majority of the populace. Long-term investment by both the government and the private sector will guarantee the training and employment of health workers, who are needed in offering health care to the additional number of patients.
Furthermore, the Act was also designed to cut the number of uninsured individuals in the country by half. According to Rosenbaum (2011), the Act will guarantee that more than 94% of the American population is insured. This will effectively reduce the number of uninsured individuals in the country by nearly 31 million people.
Major Features of the Affordable Care Act
One major feature of the Affordable Care Act is that employers with more than fifty full time employees will be penalized for those employees they do not provide health care cover for. In addition, American citizens who can afford health insurance will be required to have a cover, or pay an additional monthly fee on their tax returns. Alternatively, such citizens may request a tax exemption. Individuals who cannot afford health covers through their employers will be able to purchase affordable insurance covers in the newly established Health Insurance Exchange, which serves as a market place for insurance covers.
Furthermore, health insurance companies are no longer allowed to deny coverage to an individual for any reason. The Act also makes it illegal for such companies to raise premiums on health care covers based on health or gender. The Act also prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. In addition, the ACA prohibits insurance companies from rescinding coverage to individuals based on errors that the individuals may have made during the application process.
Difference between ACA and other government-run healthcare in other countries
The ACA in America shares some similarities as well as differences with other health care systems around the world. The American healthcare system can be described as a multi-tier system because the government covers some of the health care costs, while individuals and employers cover the rest. Only a number of Americans are eligible for Medicaid while the rest have to pay for their own health care insurance covers or have their employers provide such covers. The United Kingdom has a single payer system whereby the government pays for all health-care related costs. Proponents of this system argue that costs are effectively reined in when one organization is in charge of health care costs at all levels.
The ACA health care reform is important to me as a family member because my parents will be able to receive affordable health care insurance regardless of their age. Previously, older people including my parents would have to pay higher premiums in order to receive insurance covers because they were deemed as high risk. The situation would be worse if the individuals had any pre-existing medical conditions.
Rosenbaum, S. (2011). The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Implications for Public Health Policy and Practice. Public Health Rep, 126 (1): 130-135.