Ever since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or Obamacare has been passed in March 2010, it has been met with rings of disapproval. For one, there have been many instances – more than 50 in fact – in the House of Representatives to have the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repealed. In addition, several cases in the Supreme Court have attempted to overturn or rescind it.
But despite the many complaints against the ACA, it is still standing today. While those that have raised issues over Obamacare do have valid reasons for doing so, the bigger picture is that it was put in place to make the healthcare system in the US so much better.
In the past, the US didn’t have good marks when it came to offering healthcare for its citizens, a strange fact for a developed country. This is what Obamacare is here to address, and there are several positives to the act.
1. It Provides Access To Affordable, High-Quality Health Insurance To Uninsured Citizens
Millions of American citizens don’t have health insurance mostly because they couldn’t afford it. Obamacare was put in place to eliminate this. Forecasters of the federal budget expect that around 25 million people will get healthcare coverage because of the ACA. Since the expansion started in 2014, around 17 million have been insured.
Obamacare has three main provisions, and these include:
1. The Expansion of Medicaid
Medicaid is a federal program aimed at providing health coverage to Americans earning a low income.
2. The Creation Of Insurance Exchanges
Insurance exchanges are basically websites where people can search for coverage. Some of these even offer financial assistance from the federal government. One of the sites that fall under this category is healthcare.gov.
3. The Individual Mandate
Essentially, this requires majority of Americans to carry health insurance. If not, they should pay a penalty. The inclusion of this mandate in Obamacare is to make citizens take advantage of Medicaid’s expansion as well as insurance exchanges.
It also has to be stressed that not every American citizen is required to carry healthcare coverage – there are some exemptions. For instance, someone belonging to a religious organization that doesn’t support this kind of healthcare system does not need to participate.
2. It Will Eliminate The Medicare Doughnut Hole By 2020
Insurance isn’t provided to people when their claims for covered drugs reach a certain level under Part D of Medicare drug plans. In addition, people don’t get covered until spending has reached a specific level. With Obamacare, this “doughnut hole” will gradually be closed, and it is expected that this would not be an issue anymore by 2020.
3. It Expands Medicaid
Because of Obamacare, Medicaid expanded to cover millions of men, women and children who fell below 138% of the poverty level. Medicaid is one of three main ways to get covered, the other two being the health insurance marketplaces and insurance plans offered by employers. Through Medicaid expansion, 21.3 million Americans can get insurance in the next decade.
4. It Expands Free Preventive Services
This is true particularly for seniors and for women. Through Obamacare, 47 million women will have access to women’s health services which include preventive and wellness services. Also, a lot of the new benefits afforded to women shouldn’t have out-of-pocket payments as required by law. In addition, insurers can no longer charge women higher than they charge men.
Because of the ACA, eight women’s health benefits have been added to health insurance plans and they cover breastfeeding, contraception, domestic violence, gestational diabetes, HIV screening and counseling, sexual diseases and wellness visits. Getting access to these kinds of services requires no fee of any kind – no co-payment or co-insurance. Lastly, a plan deductible doesn’t need to be met in order for women to access these free services.
5. It Allows People To Get Coverage Even When They Have a Pre-Existing Condition
One of the primary goals of Obamacare is to increase the number citizens with health insurance coverage. As such, the act involved a major overhaul of the individual insurance market, as well as the expansion of Medicaid. One of the core issues addressed had to do with people with pre-existing conditions.
In the past, it was easy for insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or raise their premiums when they got sick. Obamacare is changing this old practice by not allowing insurers to deny a person just because they have a pre-existing condition. This particular mandate was put into place beginning in 2014.
One in two Americans have health conditions that can be considered a pre-existing condition. As such, it was truly a big deal that one of the mandates of Obamacare was to eliminate such a practice. In other words, no one can’t be denied coverage, no one can’t be charged higher and no one can be denied treatment because of their health status.
6. It Allows Parents To Include Children Up To The Age Of 26 In Their Health Insurance Plans
As a result of this, 82% of adults who are uninsured can qualify for free or low-cost insurance. Additionally, this allows everyone to get low prices on healthcare as well as have protection in case of an emergency.
7. It Provides Tax Credits To Business With Over 50 Employees For Offering Health Insurance To Their Employees
A business with more than 50 employees is required to offer healthcare coverage for their employees. In order to help with the cost of such a benefit, the government will give these businesses tax credits. This is part of the Obamacare Employer Mandate or Employer Penalty where businesses with 50-plus full-time equivalent employees need to provide health insurance to at least 95% of their workers and dependents aged 26 and lower.
Small businesses can also get incentives such as tax breaks and credits under the Small Business Health Options Program. This program allows organizations with less than 15 full-time working employees who are making less than $50,000 in average annual wages to provide health benefits.