The Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, was signed into law in 2010, but has been a topic of controversy since it was passed. The government shutdown in early October demonstrated the resistance to the law by the Republican controlled House of Representatives.
Many provisions of the law will go into effect in 2014, so Dr. Karen Kedrowski, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, teamed up with political science instructor, Katarina Moyon, to host an event to inform students about the universal health care model, its history and the specifics of the Affordable Care Act.
Moyon opened the lecture by explaining the history of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was signed by the United States in 1948. The document said that health services and the determinants of health are human rights that should be provided in some fashion by the countries that signed it. This portion of the declaration has lead to the universal health care model in many countries, but not the United States.
The U.S. currently acts under the out-of-pocket/market driven model of health care, which was one of the four models of health care Moyon spoke about. The other three models were either universal models of health care or closer to that model than the market driven model.
Kedrowski then spoke about some behaviors that occur under the current health care system of the United States. Under the current model, U.S. citizens are not required to have health care, so many do not buy insurance until they are injured or ill and need it, which is called adverse selection. However, in order for insurance to cover those who need it, companies need healthy people to pay into the system as well.
What the Affordable Care Act will do, is require citizens to get insurance, which means that the pool of money for health care will increase in hopes that health services will become more affordable. Kedrowski said that this model will benefit society as a whole by allowing people to receive the universal right of health care, increasing the life expectancy and benefitting both economic and social aspects of peoples’ lives.
Obama’s proposal called for individual and employer mandates on insurance, purchasing cooperatives, subsidies for low to moderate income families and expansion of Medicaid.
The plan also called for comprehensive reproductive benefits and services, preventative services, allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26 and not being allowed to drop a client for a pre-existing condition. Although many in the Republican Party have spoken out against Obamacare, they agree with many of these provisions, according to Kedrowski.
“Individually, each one of these provisions is very popular. Public opinion polls show over and over again that people support a comprehensive benefit package,” Kedrowski said. “But if you ask them what they think about the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, they absolutely, positively hate it.”
Although many in the Republican Party have spoken out against Obamacare, Kedrowski said that the provisions within it are not simply made up by those within the Democratic Party. The act borrows ideas from former attempts at a more universal model of health care in the U.S. under both Republican and Democratic presidents including Richard Nixon, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton, among others.
Although some continue to oppose the law, the Supreme Court ruled that the law was constitutional and would therefore stand. This means that the changes proposed under the Affordable Care Act will continue to take place. The changes include the individual mandate going into effect in January 2014 and the employer mandate going into effect in 2015. The remaining portions of the law will be completed by 2020.