Obamacare. We’ve all heard this term thrown around on the news and in our Political Science classes. But if you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’re a bit confused about what Obamacare actually is, and how it affects you as a student.
What is Obamacare? The official name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Basically, the act requires that all Americans have health insurance by 2014 or be subject to a tax that will provide them with coverage. The goal of the act is to reform the American healthcare system and allow more individuals (many who previously have been turned away by insurance companies due to preexisting conditions) to access affordable healthcare.
Potential Pros of Obamacare:
- Parents can now keep their children on their healthcare plans until the age of 26.
- Individuals with preexisting conditions can no longer be denied healthcare. This change went into effect for children in 2010 and will go into effect for adults in 2014.
- Insurance companies can no longer drop individuals who become sick.
- Insurance companies are required to justify their reasoning for raising prices (otherwise known as “rate hikes”).
Potential Cons of Obamacare:
- Starting in 2014, if you have not yet purchased healthcare, you will be taxed as much as 1% of your income to pay for healthcare services.
- Some individuals and businesses could be forced to pay higher taxes.
- 3-5 million people in the US could lose their company sponsored health insurance because their employers may find it more financially beneficial to pay a penalty for not offering insurance and allow their employees to buy coverage on their own.
Additional important (and often unknown) facts:
- People without insurance can shop for a plan that meets their healthcare needs on different healthcare exchanges. These exchanges will provide individuals with information that will allow them to become educated about whether or not they qualify for tax credits, and will also allow them to compare plans before purchasing.
- This plan has been in the works for decades and was an act created and developed by members of both political parties.
- Insurance will now be provided to two groups who previously were uninsured: young people and people who chose to forgo preventative care and instead used hospital emergency rooms once their illnesses became severe. Insuring these individuals will save money in two ways: young people will be paying a premium but are traditionally healthier and therefore use healthcare services less, and ER users will now be treated before their illnesses reach expensive ER severity.
As college students that will soon be stepping out into the real world with real responsibilities, it is important that we stay informed about what is going on in the world around us. We love to hear your questions and comments about these topics so feel free to write to us in the comments section below!