What's ObamaCare All About?
Health Care Reform for the 21st Century
To Sum it Up is Tough
“ObamaCare” Health Care
It's hard to summarize the new healthcare rules coming out of the new law that's about 2,000 pages long. Many people want to understand it quickly and especially know how it changes insurance. It's called “The Affordable Health Care Act” and although signed into law in 2010 will have advantages that will continue to be “rolled out” until 2022. But what is important right now and for next year? The overall goal is to give Americans affordable, quality health care. Note that everyone must have some kind of health insurance by New Year's Day 2014 or else pay a tax penalty. But anyone who can't afford insurance will qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, or get financial assistance. There will be reduced costs and premiums for millions of people. Those who already have insurance at work, or Medicare will keep what they have. Under ObamaCare, Medicare will have new benefits, expanded coverage, less fraud, fewer costs, and better care. There are a lot of rules aimed at making health care better overall in America such as big improvements in preventive care and women's health services, better care for seniors, and expanded coverage for the poor. For example, anyone who was too poor to afford insurance but still had enough money that he or she couldn't get qualified under Medicaid will get a break under ObamaCare's more lenient Medicaid eligibility rules. The new law will prevent insurance companies denying pay for preexisting conditions or canceling some policies just because people get sick. All Americans can start shopping for their insurance online in October 2013. Some kind of coverage has to be in place by January 1, 2014. Optimistically, it's predicted that 44 million uninsured people will have “affordable” coverage under the new law.
(for more details extracted from the 1,990-page law see http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-explained.php, http://obamacarefacts.com/obamahealthcare-summary.php, and http://obamacarefacts.com/health-care-reform-timeline.php)
The Supreme Court Challenge
Challenges to "Obama Care"
In the spring and summer of 2013 the Healthcare Reform Act was under fire in the federal courts. Among the big issues were whether the Internal Revenue Service legally could help people with subsidies to buy insurance. Other factions in the country were angry about birth control benefits being included in health plans. But most people struggling to make ends meet welcome the subsidies for insurance costs. Women generally welcome the inclusion of contraceptive birth control in the health plan.
With a very conservative Supreme Court to contend with, the Obama Care advocates were fearful that these beneficial provisions of the health plan could be considered illegal or unconstitutional. The fear was that conservatives on the Court could isolate a certain provision of the Affordable Care Act and find reasons to reject the whole act. But luckily for the majority of Americans, that didn't happen. The Obama Care law will go through, despite the challenges by arch-conservatives and rigid religious groups. In late June 2013 it was announced that by a narrow margin of only 5 to 4, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the new health plan in favor of President Obama.
The president himself has received letters from major corporations fearing that the new healthcare law will result in the company having to pay exorbitant increases in its health plan benefits provided for employees. The corporations argue that they will have to absorb the costs of implementing Obama Care. Some employers claim that their only way to avoid having these added expenses will be to reduce the hours of workers so that they become part-time employees who are ineligible to participate in the company's group medical insurance plan. An example of such letters to the president is the one sent by Delta Airlines claiming that it anticipates one hundred million ($100,000,000) in additional costs projected for 2014.
Many Like Obama and his Health Plan
It seems to be a partisan thing, this "Obama Care." Republicans tend to dislike it, but Democrats love it. Many poor people are supposed to get financial help with healthcare. It's estimated that anyone earning less than $46,000 annually stands to benefit. This is true also of less than $78,000 for a family of three, and $94,200 for a family of four. People on Medicare also expect better care. Those who have private plans will get better service and benefits.
Because corporate America has threatened to cut employee hours below the limit to qualify for group health plans at work, some Democrats in Congress are starting to build support for a law that would make this illegal.
Meanwhile, Republicans and Tea Party extremists continue to use "think tanks" to brainstorm and come up with more reasons to challenge Obama Care in hopes of destroying the health plan before it goes into effect on January 1, 2013. Mainly the Republicans fear the high costs of implementing the new plan. But political scientists are predicting the health plan will become permanent just as did Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal" laws during the 1930's including Social Security.
Racial minorities and Gays tend to be among the supporters of Obama's new healthcare law. They are special interest groups who are more likely to be without sufficient health care opportunities.
The fight goes on as Democrats angrily state that "every ugly GOP trick in the books" can't stop Obama Care from happening. (See the blog comments on the website http://www.eclectablog.com/2013/09/every-ugly-gop-trick-in-the-book-cant-stop-obamacares-advocates.html.) Groups such as "Get Covered America" and "Enroll America" are working with volunteer helpers around the clock to ensure that Obama Care will launch smoothly into 2014.
"Socialism" is a Sensitive Word in America
America is one of the only countries among those who are its primary trade allies, to have no form of socialized medicine. Other countries have it in the form of healthcare at minimal cost for all citizens, funded through taxation revenues derived by the government. But "socialism" is almost like "communism" to many Americans, especially those who remember the Cold War with Russia, also known as the USSR of "Socialist Soviet Republics."
Back as far as the late 1940's American Democrats were pushing for "socialized medicine." The phrase was used back then by those who opposed it, most notably being the doctors themselves and their powerful American Medical Association (AMA).
The government can take on a leading role in a socialized medicine plan in which the doctors also become full-time civil servants, or else there can be a less governmental approach utilizing doctors and hospitals that continue to be private and operate with less affiliation with the government. The more governmental control, the more opposition will arise based on comparisons to the enemy philosophy, communism.
Even Medicare has been criticized by conservative Americans. But the idea of government helping people to afford health care goes way back to the beginning of the 20th Century when Teddy Roosevelt advocated something of this sort. Recent Republicans consistently have opposed it. The words "socialized medicine" are so volatile in America that they are not considered polite or politically correct to use for fear of starting an argument.
Nevertheless, doctors themselves have come to embrace the concept of national health insurance and universal healthcare by a majority of two-thirds of all physicians in America. (See the 2008 survey of doctors, published in Annals of Internal Medicine.)
Because America is the leading capitalist nation in the world, Congress and presidents do not go so far as to advocate for government ownership of hospitals or employment of most doctors as public servants. Both parties agree on this point.
There is an ongoing debate whether the "quality" of care would be better or worse under a socialized plan. The evidence in foreign countries with government-run healthcare is that there have evolved two tiers: public clinics with long waits and inconvenience, versus private doctors giving prompt service to patients. This is remarkably clear in Brazil where it has become a sore point of protesters in cities all across that country in 2013.
Because the only way to fund government health plans is through taxation, conservative Republicans in America find this reason enough to discard any such plans and warn that if Obama Care goes into effect, taxes will increase and so will the national debt.
One big argument against health care for all Americans is that there will be "rationing" of the limited doctors and medical services so that old people literally will be left to die if resources are too scarce in the medical profession to provide life-saving care. But the counterargument is that this just isn't like humanity to allow such a thing to happen, and that people will come to the rescue of the elderly rather than let such a disgraceful thing occur. (See Leonhardt, David (June 17, 2009). "Health Care Rationing Rhetoric Overlooks Reality". The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2009.)