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In a society that is so technologically and industrially driven, basic living standards that people often take for granted can be indiscernible. On March 23, 2010, President Obama and the 111th United States Congress signed into law the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often nicknamed Obamacare. After coming into full force in 2014, the act primarily focuses on health care delivery systems through government provided venues, essential health benefits, low income subsidies, and Medicaid Expansion. However, starting from the beginning, there has been a lot of political opposition from those who believe that the act is detrimental to the country. Despite the criticisms of its detractors, the Affordable Care Act should remain in place and be supported by the federal government because it values people’s overall wellbeing.
The idea of the Affordable Care Act has been defended by official documents and numerous court cases since the birth of our nation. For example, the purpose of the US Constitution and other important documents, as stated in the Preamble, is to ‘establish Justice… promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves’. If the Law of Land, which has been referred back to since its inception, says that life is a non-negotiable right, healthcare should be attached to our basic rights. In addition, The Declaration of Independence states that all men have ‘unalienable Rights: Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’. Having the opportunity to survive is part of their “life” and is one of the government’s duties to protect its citizens’ health. With deference to the two most valued documents in the nation, the government needs to execute and provide the inviolable rights that everyone deserves. In the 2012 National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius Court Case, the Supreme Court decided to uphold Congress’ power to enact the Affordable Care Act, saying it was constitutional and improved the general welfare of the people. The court case showed that despite efforts of repealing it, the ACA was legal and rightfully put to help instead of hurt.
Other than the Affordable Care Act’s principle goal of valuing the general welfare, it is also has many more benefits and advantages. As an effect of the ACA, children can stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they are 26 years old. In 2011, 13.7 million young adults ages 19 to 25 stayed on or joined parents’ health plans until they were financially stable enough to pay for their own. After graduating from graduate school or university, students may not be able to afford insurance because they have to pay for other necessities, such as food and housing. However, this setback shouldn’t prevent them from receiving the care they need; therefore, being allowed to be a part of their parents’ plan allows them to have more time to stabilize and adjust into the real world. Another commensurate benefit of the ACA is that it ensures patients who can’t afford other privileges of having some health benefits: “requires all QHPs to provide coverage for 10 Essential Health Benefits (EHB), but prohibits abortion services”. By giving everyone the same minimum standards, this provision allows people who cannot afford expensive insurance to have some support. Not only does the Affordable Care Act provide meaningful work that benefits the people and the workers, but it is also detrimental to the most vulnerable who are the most affected. If repealed, “15% of Americans who were not covered by health programes for the poor and elderly will be afflicted”. Especially those who are elder and poor tend to need medical treatment more because they are more susceptible to illnesses. The people who already have a comfortable and stable life will be negatively impacted if they suddenly lose their healthcare insurance.
Over the years, the popularity for Obamacare has increased and in result, eliminated many unfavored practices that aren’t beneficial to the people. As observed in many states, popularity has increased: “Now, supporters of expansion are optimistic… suggest that 60 percent of Utah adults favor it”. If people are liable to having a system that protects them if they are hurt, that means that healthcare insurance is helping them and many people feel the need of having it. In addition to providing affordable insurance, the act also removes many of the immoral practice in the healthcare industry. One notorious wrongdoing is dropping patients when they get sick or denying coverage according to The American Academy of Family Physicians, one of the largest medical organizations in the country. No longer will there be bias regarding financial stability and people will get to be treated the same way as everyone else. Furthermore, it can “eliminate the ‘doughnut hole,’ the “coverage gap in Medicare Plan D prescription drug plans where you have limited coverage…” by 2020. By removing the area of ambivalence, people who have high prescription expenses, will not have to pay more than the total cost of the actual medicine.
In addition, the economy, an indicator of the wellbeing of the country, has improved and positively impacted many people due to the Affordable Care Act. First of all, businesses get to save money because they no longer have to pay for their employees’ health insurance and policies (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation). As a result, the outcomes of the ACA vicariously effects how business owners manage their money and time to their employees. The more success businesses have, the more products or services would be sold to help circulate the economy. Moreover, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, it is inevitable that many jobs related to healthcare will be lost. As reported by BBC News, “Jobs in the healthcare sector rose by 9% and a 2017 study found that around 2.6 million jobs could be lost by 2019”. Jobs are another significant factor in the economy because it provides the basic structure to pay for necessities and survive in the world. Because so many people depend on the medical field, if there is a steep decrease in patients, the need for these employees would reduce as well. In order to prevent the unemployment rate from increasing, the ACA allows many workers to keep their jobs in the healthcare industry by allowing more patients to have insurance. Finally, in both the long and short term, preventative healthcare is much less costly than care for a patient who is severely ill. Kimberly Amadeo, M.S. in Management from the Sloan School of Business at M.I.T, states that it is more cost friendly and efficient if “people receive treatment before they need emergency room services.” If the cost of healthcare insurance is lower, then more people from the lower class would be able to buy it. This would cause a higher demand in hosptials and other medical related professions, which would both increase the number of jobs and improve the economy. By reducing the amount business owners have to pay for their employees, providing jobs, and supplying preventive healthcare, the ACA helps people save their money and their health.
Another way to see how the Affordable Care Act has enhanced the overall well-being of the people is by comparing and observing states who have actively used Obamacare in the past. As a politically liberal state, California has seen results that prove Obamacare’s intended goals for its patients. The state took advantage of the flexibility and structure and is now having robust enrollment; there is an estimation that “130,000 residents in Santa Clara County gained Medi-Cal coverage…”. Furthermore, Chicago, an urban city in Illinois, has had success with its economy and workforce: “GoHealth Inc. saw its local workforce grow 30 percent in 2017 to 700 people from the 2016 total of less than 500”. These two obliging states took full advantage of the ACA and saw prosperity as a result. Similar results can be seen on the other side of the political spectrum. As a swing state, known for having both Republicans and Democrats, Florida has had an impressive outcome with its number of people insured for healthcare. According Justine Griffin, a health and medicine new reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, Florida led the nation in enrollment and had 1.7 million people insured through Obamacare last year. Statistics prove that if a state is committed to putting its full effort to use the ACA for their benefit they have the opportunity to improve the general welfare of its people.
Some may argue that despite attempts of lowering prices, the cost of health insurance is still unaffordable to the majority of people who need it. According the President Donald Trump, premiums “have increased by double and triple digits,” and remarked that premiums in Arizona “went up 116% last year alone”. This increase in price might undermine the benefits of having insurance and lower the participation because the number of people who cannot afford it would increase. However, to fairly balance the advantages and the disadvantages, people must rethink and understand the ultimate purpose of healthcare insurance: to serve the underserved by providing medical care. Although prices aren’t as low as people had hoped, the cost for a person who dies due to the lack of healthcare is more costly than the insurance itself. Based on statistics, “the average hospital cost for a stay ending in death was nearly three times higher, $26,000, than the cost of a patient who was discharged alive, $9,447. This means that the cost of a person dying from care is both detrimental financially to the hospital and emotionally to the people who lost an important figure in their lives. Before getting to this point and increasing the chances of someone not surviving from intensive care, the most ideal solution is to prevent the patient from being terminally ill by providing the medical attention prior. Therefore, the price that many people worry about before getting healthcare insurance does not compare to the ineffable price of losing a loved one and being too late. According to Reed Abelson, a reporter for the New York Times, there are current attempts to assist those in need, such as allowing those whose income levels are low enough to qualify for federal tax credits and be exempt from price hikes. Targeting those below the middle class is a way to ameliorate the problem of exorbitant in order to give everyone an opportunity to have medical care. Because of the goal of trying to save a person’s life and efforts to lower the cost, there are many more benefits of getting healthcare insurance.
Although there is a lot of controversy and ambiguity between political parties regarding the Affordable Care Act, it should still be supported by the federal government because it values people’s overall wellbeing. Before thinking about how the act will hurt the country superficially or impact the upper class, we need to take a step back and look at this from a different perspective. Just because a person cannot afford health insurance does not make them any less of a human being or not a part of the US law of the land.
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