The 1st of October was a red-letter day for the Affordable Care Act, a signature policy that President Obama has put underway, through which uninsured citizens may purchase health-care coverage from the new online medical care “exchanges” that have opened on this day. Put simply, by the first of January 2014 every American is required by law to be medically insured (if not, they will pay penalties). In the first year penalties are not extraordinary (they may reach around $95 per person, or within a family no more than 1 percent of the family income) but as time goes by, they may increase as much as sevenfold and can even reach $700 per person in the next two years (with a family maximum of around $2100 or 2.5 percent of the total family income).
As a minimum insurance plan must cover essentials such as hospital or doctor visits, maternity care, prescription drugs and mental care, citizens who are already insured through their employer, Medicaid, Medicare, Children’s Health Insurance Program, Veterans Healthcare, Tricare, Peace Corps plans and many others are exempted from buying these insurance policies online, or at least this is what the new health care reform promises.
This program is designed to allow any American citizen to find health insurance that is affordable, easy to get to and most of all, qualitative. But already, there seem to be glitches in this seemingly foolproof plan. For one, citizens who are already paying for insurance bought off the individual market are surprised to see cancellation notices or offers for coverage at ridiculously increased rates. As the minimum requirements for benefits were not met in the old plans, insurance companies find themselves forced to cover costs at all circumstances.
There are examples of families that have received healthcare offers which were increased from $380 per month to almost $1,200, even though deductibles remained unchanged.
What remains a point of criticism when it comes to Obamacare, is that the requirements are clearly separate for individuals and businesses. This is because while an individual is mandated to buy an insurance plan by the 1st of next year, businesses are exempted from this rule and can have an extra year without having to meet the requirements. Citizens surely have issues with this matter, as it is no easy task having to watch businesses which seem not to be thrown off balance by this new act, while being forced to decide for a health plan even when you want none.
The explanation is quite simple – since more than 95 percent of businesses are already enrolled in health insurance plans with their employees; the remainder would clearly not change market numbers considerably enough to make a difference. And although there is an ethical issue to be discussed, as individuals are not permitted to delay their enrollment, but businesses can, the issue at hand is that this bill is meant to offer citizens more good than anything else. Even young people, who feel nothing can touch them, may very well find themselves a car accident away from a life of debt due to unpaid hospital bills.
The truth is that this bill is going to make a lot of people happy that could never have dreamt of the possibility of entering a hospital without fear of the ever-asked question: “are you insured?” Critique is possible with every new thing but the real question is if such critique is necessary.