As the government shutdown continues, the debate over Obamacare continues to intensify, as if it could intensify any more than it already has. Politicians and analysts alike continue to shoot out facts about the new program, many of which seem to contradict each other. As a result, there are many misconceptions about what exactly Obamacare does, and if it is actually best for the United States.
Explaining all the benefits and drawbacks of Obamacare would take much longer that what can fit in this column, because the reality is Obamacare isn’t perfect. That being said, Obamacare is a huge step forward, and will impact us potentially for the rest of our lives. As a result, it’s important to understand some of the major advantages that Obamacare will soon be providing for us. Obamacare isn’t replacing health insurance companies; rather, it is regulating them to increase benefits and lower costs.
While Obamacare doesn’t fully go into effect until 2014, what many people don’t realize is that millions of people have been enjoying its benefits already. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 54 million Americans received preventative health services such as flu shots and mammograms in 2011 for free. The Obama Administration also reported that people over the age of 65 paid $1.5 billion less in prescription drug services that same year.
However, a majority of the biggest changes are happening now. Health insurance companies have regulations that make them much more accountable. Believe it or not, not all insurance plans had to guarantee coverage on services such as mental health care, laboratory costs and newborn care. Now, they legally have to on any services that are deemed essential.
Also unlike in the past, women get huge benefits from Obamacare. According to the website ObamaCare Facts, before the new program, a woman could be charged up to 50% more for coverage that was exactly the same as a man. This is now illegal. Obamacare also requires insurance companies to cover birth control and maternity care.
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of Obamacare is that people can no longer be denied health insurance based on a preexisting condition. If you got sick and lost your job, you would be in an incredibly tough spot financially. Thankfully, Obamacare not only makes people guaranteed for coverage, but would decrease the cost of insurance for people in that position.
Additionally, preexisting conditions were not always illnesses. There have been instances where pregnancy was considered a preexisting condition. Now that will no longer be a concern for millions of women.
As if all that wasn’t enough, here are a couple of other quick facts. Medicaid will be expanded to cover millions more people, and children will be covered by their parents’ insurance until they are 26. Insurance companies will not be able to hike up insurance rates without sufficient justification, and insurance companies now have to publicly disclose their justification for rate increases. Basically, insurance companies will get a whole lot less shady.
While there are drawbacks to Obamacare, including tax increases on those making over $200,000 annually, many of these drawbacks are being exaggerated. A big example of this is the effect Obamacare will have on small businesses.
Obamacare ensures that all businesses that have over 50 employees will have to provide health insurance. While this may seem bad for small businesses, the good news is that according to the New Yorker, 96 percent of small businesses have less than 50 employees. For those that do, 90 percent of those companies offer health insurance anyway. Therefore, only a fraction of U.S. businesses are going to be affected.
People need health insurance; there really is no other way to put it. The fact that our country has millions of people that aren’t insured is a shame. Thankfully, this will soon improve. Obamacare has one major goal, and that is to regulate health insurance. Before, the system was broken and millions were taken advantage of. Now, many more people will be insured and the benefits they receive will increase. Obamacare improves health care immensely, but it isn’t perfect. Still, most will be thankful that it is here.
Nick Ulferts is a junior English education major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding his column can be sent to email@example.com