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The Affordable Care Act and Healthcare Improvement

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as the Obamacare, sparked off a lot of controversy dividing the people into two sides; some sing the praises to the act while others take a dim view believing that it has more cons than pros. With all the pros and cons, the Obamacare act should not be judged on political merits, and one will need to acknowledge that the act has brought an array of changes into the overall medical system. The changes are affecting every American citizen, and it is worth discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the Obamacare based on sound reasoning.

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There are three major problems facing the health care in the United States: first, millions of people go uninsured, second, health care costs are on the increase, third, the quality of health care leaves much to be desired (Wilensky, 2012). Wilensky (2012) argues that the Obamacare Act is addressing only the first and the simplest of the problems, promising to make insurances affordable (p. 1479). However, the act fails to offer solutions to the remaining two issues relating to the declining quality and increasing medical costs.

While it is true that the ACA increased access to more affordable health insurances, those improvements came at a price of increased taxes on people with high-income levels (Fulton, Hollingshead, Karaca-Mandic, & Scheffler, 2015). Medical and pharmaceutical companies also have to pay higher taxes, and the overall tax increase is likely to push them to increase the cost of medications and medical services (Fulton et al., 2015). While the ACA did reduce the cost of health insurances, some people have to pay more than they used to under prior, private plans (Kessler, 2014).

According to the new regulations built into the ACA, small businesses will have to provide insurances for the full-time employees, the refusal to insure the workers will result in a fine (Fulton et al., 2015). This provision is beneficial for the workers as they will feel more protected, however, this will come at a price that the employers will need to pay. As the provision requires that only full-time workers be insured, some businesses may choose to cut the workload of employees or hire fewer of them to cut costs. Another way for businesses to compensate for the insurances they’ll have to provide may be a cost increase for consumers, and the insurances will in the long run, be paid from the pockets of ordinary citizens.

Undoubtedly, a compelling argument in favor of Obamacare is the introduction of preventive measures into the health plan (Kessler, 2014). The preventive measures are targeted at preventing a disease at its incipient stage thus saving costs and the patient’s health. Before the ACA, people were reluctant to have medical checkups without an explicit reason, as a result, fewer diseases were identified and prevented. Currently, the screenings for a wide range of diseases are covered by the insurance. However, the free preventive measures are increasing the load on the hospitals and the medical staff, who need to process a large number of medical tests. The biggest shortfall of the ACA is that while it offers to provide medical care to all it does not offer ways in which it may be achieved. It is easy for politicians to impose new regulations; however, for hospitals it will mean an influx of patients thus creating the need for new medical staff and equipment. The increased number of patients is likely to make the medical system less effective and accessible contributing to the decline of health care quality.

The provision that sparked off a lot of controversy is the requirement for everyone to have insurance (Wilensky, 2012). Everyone choosing to opt out of insurance will be required to pay a penalty. This provision is targeted to encourage more people to obtain insurance. However, the penalty for not being insured is rather small, and a lot of young people choose to postpone buying it and save money for other purposes (Wilensky, 2012).

Due to differences in regulations, some states choose to opt out of the medical expansion program, this specifically relates to the Republican states which exhibit opposition to the ACA (Fulton et al., 2015). Furthermore, the Supreme Court made a ruling according to which states could voluntarily opt out of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion (Kessler, 2014). It means that the medical expansion remains inaccessible in the states opposing the ACA.

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Despite all the controversy surrounding the ACA, it is admittedly an important step ahead. Nevertheless, it is yet too early to adequately evaluate its impact as the ACA is still insufficient and needs to be streamlined for all of the states. Before the Obamacare, the uninsured were running a risk of losing their property or becoming an economic burden to their families in case of a disease. Now, owing to the Obamacare, the middle-class and poor people have better access to health insurances. The opponents of the ACA, specifically the Republicans, who are saying that imposing a health insurance on people infringes their freedom are wrong. Following their logic, it is also wrong to impose auto insurances as people are free to drive without being insured. There exists an array of policies in the United States when people are required to follow a certain law or a regulation. The Obamacare should not be the exception, and people should treat it as their inalienable right to medical care.

Reference List

Fulton, B., Hollingshead, A., Karaca-Mandic, P., & Scheffler, R. (2015). Republican States Bolstered Their Health Insurance Rate Review Programs Using Incentives From the Affordable Care Act. The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing, 52(0), 1-10. Web.

Kessler, G. (2014). The GOP claim that more Americans have lost insurance than gained it under Obamacare. Web.

Wilensky, G. R. (2012). The Shortfalls of Obamacare. The New England Journal of Medicine, 367(16), 1479-1481. Web.

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