It’s one of the most talked about issues in America – even responsible for the first government shutdown since ’95 – and yet, six out of ten Americans surveyed claim they don’t fully understand how the Affordable Care Act will affect them. That was me, up until a few weeks ago. I knew of the Affordable Care Act (more commonly referred to as Obama Care) but my knowledge of the deets was minimal, at best. Being uninsured myself, it was clear that this issue affected me personally, but was learning about it really more important than playing eight interrupted hours of GTA V? Unfortunately, yes it was, and during my fourth uninterrupted hour of GTA V, my conscious won over – annoying little twerp that it was – and I decided to research this well documented, but relatively misunderstood, change that would quickly be affecting our nation’s healthcare system.
In an effort to not hinder your own video game time, I’ve listed the main points of the Affordable Care Act in a – hopefully – brief and easy to understand manner. In my opinion, the information already available on the subject is more complex than it needs to be (the bill itself is a 2,000+ page document) and I think it’s high time somebody laid out the material Internet style, clear, concise, and with a cute picture of a kitten at the end to reward you.
*It’s important to note that the Affordable Health Care Act is an ongoing process. Some of these changes have already been implemented. Others will not be seen until 2014 or later. I’ve categorized this information accordingly (at least I think I have).
The FDA can now approve more generic drugs. Brand name prescriptions cost substantially more than their generic counterparts, while having no added benefit.
A non-profit group – which claims to not be “directly controlled” by the government – has been established to study various kinds of treatment and medication, and thereby determine what methods work better than others, and what methods are the most cost efficient.
No person under the age of 19 can be denied health insurance due to a pre-existing condition.
Children can stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until the age of 26.
Restaurant chains – such as McDonald’s – are now required to display nutritional information on their food items clearly. This is supposed to aid people in making healthier decisions, but I seriously doubt many people go into McDonald’s with “healthy choices” on their minds.
Lifetime Limits have been eradicated.
Insures can’t drop a customer once they get sick. Likewise, insurers have a harder time changing the cost of a pre-existing plan.
Insurers must tell customers what they’re spending money on, instead of just listing various costs as “administrative fees”.
A new website was created in order to explain healthcare to individuals and help them purchase their own.
A limit is placed on how much profit and insurance company can make.
All health care plans must now include preventative care (immunizations, mammograms, etc.).
No one – regardless of age – can be refused coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
Small businesses (less than 50 employees) will get a tax break for providing health care to their employees.
Health Insurance Marketplaces will be established in order to make it easier, and more affordable, for individuals to purchase health insurance. Think of this as a mega-mall where all the stores sell health insurance. They’re all competing for your business and that means lower prices for everybody.
The American people will no longer foot the bill for Congress’s, and Congressional Staff member’s, health care.
Doctor’s pay will be determined by the quality of their care, not by how many people they treat, quality over quantity.
If a state’s government can come up with a better plan – and prove their plan works as well as, or better than the Affordable Care Act – then that state may implement its own health care laws.
The non-profit group mentioned in the “Pros” section, sounds good in theory, but I’m wary of any group – government controlled or otherwise – that searches for the most “cost efficient” way of treating illnesses.
A 10% tax increase has been implemented on businesses that provide medical services, including tanning salons.
The new website that was created to help individuals better understand and purchase health care is almost comically buggy. 3 out of 10 people who use the site claim to have major problems setting up an account. SNL featured a skit last week about this problem that’ll make you giggle, whether you knew about the faulty site or not.
A limit is placed on what type of OTC drugs can be purchased with your insurance.
Individuals making over 200,000 dollars a year saw a .09% tax increase. This is to help pay for some of the costs incurred by the Affordable Care Act. For most of us, this doesn’t seem like a con at all, but for those making that kind of money, it’s still a tax increase to pay for something they don’t need. It goes without saying that a lot of these pros and cons will vary, depending on your perspective.
MANDATE!!! This is the biggest problem that many people have with the Affordable Care Act. If you didn’t know already, as of January 1st, 2014, you will be charged a fee if you can afford health insurance but do not have it. The idea of the government forcing me to buy something seems so un-American that it makes me want to puke up red, white, and blue vomit. However, the reasoning behind it does – kind of – make sense. In order for the government to eliminate pre-existing conditions from playing a factor in your ability to buy health insurance or not, they needed to implement a way that would keep people from not buying health insurance until they needed it. This would be like buying life insurance after you killed your spouse. That might be a bad – and morbid – example, but hopefully you get the point behind it.
The low-income cut-off for Medicaid (basically free government health care) will be higher, meaning more people will be eligible for Medicaid. You know as well as I do that a large number of people will take advantage of this, and ruin it for those who really need it.
Businesses with over 50 employees must offer health care to their full time employees or pay a penalty. In anticipation of this, many businesses around the country have started firing workers in order to get under this magic number.
A new tax will be placed on pharmaceutical companies
A new tax will be placed on medical devices.
A higher tax will be enforced on insurance companies based on their market share. Basically punishing insurance companies that are doing well.
Doctors pay being determined by the quality of their care, instead of how many patients they treat might make those long waits in the E.R. even longer.
A new tax will be implemented on “Cadillac” health care plans. These are plans for wealthier individuals that cover more “unnecessary” expenses (nutritionists, psychiatrists, plastic surgery, etc.) Again, your feelings on whether this is a con or not will vary depending on the size of your wallet.
By no means should you consider this article as a “tell all” on the Affordable Care Act. I’m far from what you would consider an expert on the subject, and – just like you – I’m still learning the ins and outs of this historic bill. I’ve listed some of the same sites I used to research this topic, and I highly suggest you look over them at your leisure. Most of these are not fun to read – some are, including a cartoon about the Affordable Care Act – but they are, for the most part, unbiased and factual, and will help you form your own opinion.
I’d like to propose a question to you all. Just a thought, not a statement, and if you have any ideas as to why this won’t work, or any idea on a better plan, please, please, please write it in the comments or email me directly as I’m sincerely concerned with what other people’s thoughts are on this subject. Why can’t we have a nation wide vote on issues like this? Of course, we can’t be bothered to vote on every single bill that’s trying to get passed, but on something like Nationwide Health Care reform it would be nice to know that I have a little more say on the matter than just voting for the man or woman who’s going to make my decision for me.
Now, as promised…