Whether you agree or disagree with President Obama’s Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA), it passed and is likely to be fully implemented on schedule. However, the debate rages on as to whether it’s the next American miracle or the first step toward Commie-ville.
So, what does the Affordable Care Act actually mean for the average American? What are the biggest changes, and are they good or bad? Who will be most affected? Is there any chance the opposition could successfully repeal all or parts of it, and why do they hate it so much, anyway?
Change is scary, even if it’s for the best, so many people are understandably nervous about what the new healthcare will mean for them. Will we be forced to do things we don’t want to do, or will we end up with more and better healthcare options?
The biggest changes once PPACA is fully implemented include the following:
1. Healthcare is opened up to people who couldn’t afford it or had preexisting conditions. Premium prices will be lowered significantly, and insurance companies will no longer legally be able to deny coverage to people who are already sick.
2. Free preventative care such as cancer screenings and physicals will be provided for all Americans—which means no more copays for these services. This especially affects women who have specific and unique needs not well met by our healthcare system.
3. Gradual improvement in the quality of healthcare. The plan has several provisions, such as incentives for higher-quality and more efficient care by doctors and hospitals, that will improve the healthcare Americans receive overall.
4. Reducing or eliminating consumer abuses. A major goal of the Affordable Care Act is to stop insurance companies from discriminating against and denying coverage to people based on medical conditions, participation in clinical trials, medical past, or clerical errors, to name just a few.
In other words, insurance companies will hate it, but actual humans who need healthcare should see a lot of benefits.
Might It Be Repealed?
Beginning about shortly after it passed, opponents have been promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But few have come up with an alternative and, at this point, it’s unlikely to happen unless they win the next Presidential election. If a Republican takes the White House in 2012, he or she will likely attempt a repeal, or at the very least, dismantle the sections of PPACA that haven’t yet been implemented, which could weaken it considerably. Once PPACA is fully implemented, however, it will be very difficult to undo it for the simple fact that Americans won’t be willing to give up the benefits of affordable, accessible healthcare that can’t be cut off at the whim of insurance companies. In addition, opponents will have to justify the $3 trillion dollar cost of repealing the PPACA, which is unlikely to go over well with voters of either party.
Given the opposition to the Affordable Care Act, you might be wondering if, say, only mean people benefit from it, or people trying to get a free ride off your tax dollars. It appears, however, that virtually everyone will benefit in some way, except possibly insurance company executives. Those who stand to gain the most from PPACA include low-income people (especially women) who previously may have been priced out of healthcare or would have been required to pay copays that they truly couldn’t afford in order for basic preventative tests like mammograms. Also benefiting are children with preexisting conditions, young adults who would have otherwise lost health insurance between leaving their parents and finding a job that offers full benefits, and the elderly, many of whom fell through holes in the system and were denied coverage and/or affordable prescriptions. Even middle class people will benefit by not having to worry about having limits placed on coverage or being denied in the case of a major medical issue.
Why the Opposition to the Affordable Care Act?
The primary problem opponents have with the President Obama’s health care reforms is that the reforms place the responsibility for healthcare on the U.S. government. Opponents feel this is essentially “socialized medicine,” which is defined as medical care provided to all at nominal cost, paid for with taxes and overseen and regulated by the government. Opponents to PPACA generally favor smaller government and less regulation in general, and believe that healthcare should be a free-market enterprise. In addition, expanding coverage means higher costs, rather than the reduction of government spending preferred by the plan’s opponents. Opponents acknowledge that the current healthcare system is flawed, but feel that those who most benefit from the Affordable Care Act would be better served by a free-market system rather than government involvement.