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The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): Strengths & Challenges

Updated on April 25, 2012


The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): Strengths & Challenges



The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will revolutionize the healthcare industry. Currently there is a large percentage of Americans without adequate health coverage. Why then would citizens oppose the enactment of such legislation? There are many players in the economic battlefront that would like to see healthcare continue to be privatized so they can continue to reap profits.


This as we have seen under the current health care standings is counterproductive not only to the people and government but to corporations and businesses alike. The bottom line is that healthier people are better able to reach their potential and therefore contribute to the labor market more frequently effectively increasing the taxes paid for the single-payer system and increasing revenue for the health industry as many of these people would otherwise be uninvolved.


Of course as with any policy there are strengths and challenges that present themselves when trying to facilitate change. A major strength of this act is its ability to help Americans become healthier in effect reducing frequency of disease and preventable illness. The key points that I found beneficial to not only the government but the people also are the reduction of administration, Fee’s for employers who do not offer adequate health coverage and the government gaining control over the unfair and soaring prices for medical aid of any form in particular medication costs and insurance premiums.


A reduction in administration means that all of the duplicated administration positions would be eliminated or absorbed by the government. This is estimated to save $200 billion in administrative costs. This amount is in fact higher than what the government is currently spending on supplemental health coverage and benefits paid. (Jimenez, J.2010) Just this one aspect will not only reduce the financial burden to the tax-payers but will also promote consistency of standards and price setting for the health beneficiary.


Another aspect of the ACA I find to be very beneficial and focused not on business but the people supporting the business is fee’s attached to companies who do not offer health coverage to their employees. Granted this aspect of the legislation may cause many small businesses to worry about increased cost to provide insurance that they have otherwise until now have not been obligated to provide. To alleviate this, the plan attributes certain credits and incentives for businesses to provide the coverage required while helping to reduce the possible destruction of the company due to the increased costs. The reality is that the resistance to these changes is based on the mentality of increasing profit while lowering cost. How can a country provide even one of its citizen’s basic needs if the purpose is to profit rather than actually help resolve the issues? By providing health coverage that is affordable to their employees a company is investing in the longevity of its constituents, reducing needed sick days and by default increasing productivity and moral.


The aspect of the ACA I found to be the most beneficial to Americans is the regulation of healthcare costs. Many Americans have to choose between food and the medications that keep them alive. Considering this dilemma is it acceptable for the company creating this situation to continue making huge profits each year? For example Pfizer, a major producer of pharmaceuticals reported total revenue of $67.8billion in 2010. (Pfizer, 2011). What does this disparity convey about the purpose of this company in relation to its customers on going health and making a profit? Simply put, you cannot have a healthcare system that works toward the betterment of its recipients if the focus is profitability, especially when it is more profitable to keep them sick. Perhaps that is why Americans receive “treatments” rather than cures.


Although the ACA will help many Americans achieve better health and therefore a better quality of life there are many challenges that can influence its effectiveness and/or implementation. Of these financing the program would seem to be the biggest obstacle because it will require not only citizens but companies also to take a less profit and more proactive approach to the health of others. One obstacle present currently with the policy is the resistance against mandated purchase of insurance. For some this is seen as a violation of Articles I and IV of the Constitution and also the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. (Arts, K. 2010) Section 9, Article I in the Constitution clearly states that one limitation of congress is that “No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State”. (U.S Constitution, 1787) It would seem that companies selling pharmaceuticals across state boarders may fall into this category. Furthermore the 10th Amendment to the constitution states that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”. (U.S Constitution, 1791) This in my opinion is the strongest “constitutional” argument in opposition of the ACA.


One seemingly obscure omission to this plan the effect universal healthcare may have on the countries moral. As it stands in our country today our lives are centered on work and acquisition of comforts and security through materials and monetary gains. This individualistic concept we hold is a major creator of stress in our lives. The ACA does not address the issue of class separation. It only addresses healthcare in terms of a person’s “basic” needs. As proposed in the plan the government would regulate medical billing and payment. This will ensure that people can afford the health coverage they have, yet does that mean it is adequate of effective? There will be procedures and more importantly costs that may not be coverable for everyone through government funding due to lack of revenue. These higher quality aspects of healthcare will still remain a privilege of the wealthy, thus continuing the paradigm of class separation.


It would seem a better idea to make healthcare a government managed entity. By removing the ability for profit generation in regards to independent health agencies, insurance providers and independent healthcare related production companies such as Pfizer a surplus of revenue would become available. For example if Pfizer where required to become a not-for-profit corporate entity then the $67.8 billion they made in profit in 2010 would be reabsorbed back into the healthcare system by proxy reducing prices for their customers medical needs. According to CNN Money the total profits for the 12 major pharmaceutical companies in 2010 was $63,976,000,000. (CNN Money, 2010) It would also be in the company’s best interest to maximize efficiency and reduce costs by providing the best quality healthcare available. It would garner a stronger focus on finding cures for illnesses and long-term prevention options rather than reactive treatments that only serve to increase profits at the expense of a person’s health. The simplest argument is that we as Americans have the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Part of life is tied to health just as all basic human needs are. Therefore it could be argued that not having a universal healthcare system designed to reduce sickness and promote long-term health deprives us as citizens of one of our fundamental rights.


In conclusion the ACA regardless of its landmark status still shares in the fallibility of all legislation. As with the constitution the ACA will undoubtedly go through a long process of amendments before it is a completely implemented and efficient program. The passing of the ACA is just the beginning of a long process of the revitalization of the American people. Increased health leads to increased productivity thus helping to support their economy and by default the very system they are benefiting from.


From my own personal experience I have witnessed the difference between privatized health insurance and state funded health care. There is a difference. At age 14 I had a severe laceration severing nerve and tendon in my ring finger of the right hand. This injury and subsequent nerve and tendon reconstruction was covered by Blue Cross & Blue Shield. Today I have full range of motion and sensitivity in the finger with a hairline scar that is barely noticeable. At age 25 I suffered the same injury on the opposing hand. This surgery was covered my Mainecare. It has been 11 years and I still have reduced sensitivity and am unable to move the joints at the end of my ring and pinky finger. This experience alone makes me question how good “adequate” will really be if the government extends its current health coverage of the poor to everyone. The single-payer approach would not change anything for me as I am already covered by Mainecare. However I would be in opposition to the bill if the quality of health care is not maximized for the betterment of the people, which it is my understanding that the purpose of the ACA is supposed to be exactly that.



References


Arts, K


LEGAL CHALLENGES TO HEALTH REFORM, An Alliance for Health Reform Toolkit, allhealth.org, 2010. Retrieved on Apr. 22nd 2012 from http://www.allhealth.org/publications/Uninsured/Legal_Challenges_to_New_Health_Reform_Law_97.pdf


CNN Money


Pharmaceuticals, Industry, Fortune 500, CNN Money, 2010. Retrieved on Apr. 22nd 2012 from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2010/industries/21/index.html


Jimenez, J.


Health Care Policy, Chapter 9, Social Policy and Social Change; Toward the Creation of Social and Economic Justice, 2010. p.365.


Pfizer


Pfizer Reports Fourth-Quarter And Full-Year 2010 Results, Pfizer, 2011. Retrieved on Apr. 23rd 2012 from http://www.pfizer.com/files/investors/presentations/q4performance_020111.pdf


U.S Constitution


Article I, Section 9, The United States Constitution, 1787. Retrieved on Apr.22nd 2012 from http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#A1Sec9


U.S Constitution


10th Amendment, The United States Constitution, 1791. Retrieved on Apr. 22nd 2012 from http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#A1Sec9


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