The adoption of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010 has given rise to various debates among different policy-makers, medical workers, patients, as well as journalists.1It is important to discuss the positive and negative consequences of this healthcare reform.
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Much attention should be paid to the financial implications of this law and its impact on the work of various organizations. More importantly, one should discuss its effects on the experiences of patients. These are the main questions that should be examined in greater detail.
Overall, this legislative act is supposed to increase the accessibility of healthcare. In particular, legislators considered the needs of low-income people who could not always receive adequate medical services. The key task was to provide assistance to the uninsured population by expanding eligibility criteria. This law includes several mechanisms that are critical for its implementation.
For example, insurance companies are not allowed to deny a person the right to coverage because he/she can have some health problems.2 Thus, one can argue that policy-makers tried to empower patients. Additionally, one should consider the obligation to purchase health insurance; otherwise, a person can be forced to pay the fine. This requirement is particularly relevant if one speaks about young adults. Furthermore, this law implies that people who do not reach a certain income level should be given subsidies.
Apart from that, this legislation entails new requirements that employers must comply with. In particular, businesses employing at least 50 full-time workers will be required to offer health insurance. Finally, the legislators provided additional funding to Medicaid. These are the core elements of this law, and these changes affected a great number of people.
It is possible to distinguish several positive sides of the Affordable Care Act. As it has been said before, it enabled many uninsured people to receive medical services. In the past, many of these people could be left to their own devices at the time when they faced some severe health problems. Additionally, this legislative act raises the accountability that insurance companies have to meet.
For example, they have to justify rate hikes.3 These businesses have to make their decisions more transparent, and this increased accountability is of great importance to governmental agencies as well as patients. Apart from that, there are restrictions on the out-of-pocket expenses that a person should pay. It should be mentioned that these costs may not be affordable to some low-income people.
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More importantly, this approach enables citizens to minimize costs; for example, children can use the health insurance of their parents. Again, this policy is vital for promoting the interest of people who can struggle with economic difficulties. In addition to that, the legislators attached importance to making preventative medical services more accessible. Many of them are provided for free.
This particular provision is critical for promoting overall health in the United States because, in many cases, it is much easier to stop the development of the disease at its initial stages.4 In the long term, this approach can be important for reducing the costs of healthcare since prevention and early treatment is usually less expensive. These are the positive sides of this legislation.
Nevertheless, one should also take into account the negative aspects of this reform. In particular, some people may argue that health insurance can be imposed on them, even though they do not want to buy it. Admittedly, there are some exemptions from the mandatory insurance such as economic hardships faced by a person or a household.5
Nevertheless, this requirement can deprive a person of financial resources that can be used for other purposes. To a great extent, this policy can be viewed as the intrusion of the state into the life of an individual. Additionally, they may state that they are required to bear the financial burden of this reform. This is one of the reasons why many voters are vehemently opposed to this legislative act.
Apart from that, it is important to consider the perspective of insurance companies. These organizations have to face and evaluate risks when they provide insurance to a client. For example, they need to know if a person is engaged in an unhealthy lifestyle such as smoking or excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages. Such people are usually at a greater risk of acquiring various diseases. 6 This information is vital for the estimation of the premium that the client should pay.
If they are forced to disregard the previous medical history of a client, their costs can increase significantly. This is one of the problems that should be taken into consideration.
Furthermore, one should consider the internal inefficiencies of this law, since the average cost of premium increased after its adoption. 7 In this way, medical companies can respond to the new requirements that are set for them. Apart from that, one should not forget about the difficulties faced by people who have already paid for their insurance. This is one of the negative effects that should not be overlooked.
Apart from that, this policy can be criticized by medium-sized businesses that are required to offer health insurance to workers. If they do not comply with this norm, they will have to pay penalties. In turn, their growth can be impaired significantly. These organizations have to pay increased premiums to insurance companies.8 The main problem is that such businesses can simply decide to terminate some of their workers in order to avoid additional costs.
Thus, it is important to consider the adverse impacts of this reform on the employees of these companies. One can argue that the Affordable Care Act is a very complex law that has both benefits and drawbacks. Moreover, the task of policy-makers is to create mechanisms that can minimize its adverse effects.
Apart from that, one should not forget that the potential challenges associated with the Affordable Care Act can be explained by misinformation and misunderstanding of the provisions included in this law.9 For instance, this law can be described as one of the key threats to the job security of many people. Nevertheless, these concerns are often unjustified. Additionally, the challenges associated with this law can be remedied at the time when different institutions can adjust to the new legal framework.10
On the whole, this discussion indicates that the Affordable Care Act can have profound implications for various stakeholders. For example, one can speak about low-income individuals, entrepreneurs, insurance companies, and medical workers. It is possible to say that this law can increase the accessibility of healthcare and reduce its costs; nevertheless, it can result in high costs that have to be paid by medium-sized businesses.
Similarly, the bargaining power of insurance companies is reduced significantly. Nevertheless, despite the possible limitations and complexities of this legislation, it can significantly benefit millions of people, and its core principles should not be abolished. These are the main aspects that can be singled out.
1 Conaboy C. Medicaid decision in health care ruling may cause conflicts. The Boston Globe. 2012. Web.
2. Patton M. Obamacare: Seven Major Provisions And How They Affect You. Forbes. 2013. Web.
3. Review of Insurance Rates. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Web.
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4. Preventive Health Care. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Websites. Web.
5. Bernard, T. How Affordable Care Act Rules Affect Your Taxes. The New York Times. 2013. Web.
6. Lachman, V. Ethical Challenges in the Era Of Health Care Reform. Ethics, Law, and Policy. 2012; 21 (4): 248-250. Web.
7. Richardson, V. Obamacare premiums soar as much as 78% to help cover essential health benefits. The Washington Times. October 28, 2014. Web.
8. Harrison, J. Obamacare: A blessing for some small businesses, and a nightmare for others. The Washington Post. Web.
9. Reich, R. The Affordable Care Act Is Working Despite Misinformation. The New York Times. 2014. Web.
10. Rivlin, A. People who wanted market-driven health care now have it in the Affordable Care Act. The Washington Post. 2014. Web.