The (Un)Affordable Care Act

by Christina Moore

The Affordable Care Act continues to be a hotly contested issue. The main focus of the argument remains along partisan issues, as opposed to a review of the actual policy. The goal of health care reform was to improve the current health care system. To create a permanent change, the ideal policy that would dramatically overhaul the health care system would be feasible, durable, and bipartisan. However, this legislation does not meet any of those criteria after examining the actual cost, the burdening effects on employers, and the flaws in the individual mandate.

Actual Cost

One of the main reasons people support the Affordable Care Act is the amount of money that it is predicted to be saved. The Congressional Budget Office released their estimation that the Affordable care act will reduce the federal deficit by $230 billion over the first 10 years. On the contrary, this health care reform will cost the government $938 billion dollars over ten years (Kahn, Karl & Wolf, 2010). For this law to save money, as opposed to inflicting costs on taxpayers, the controversial Medicare cuts must take place and the estimated costs will have to have been projected correctly, which in reality remain relatively unknown.

Effect on Employers

Health care costs are expected to increase for all but 3 percent of employers due to the new required regulations for health care plans (Fritz 2010). With our current economic instability, further job loss may ensue. The argument against this is that businesses would be saving money on health costs in the long run, which could inspire more hiring. The problem with this idea is time. Our unstable economy needs to be focused on job creation now instead of running the risk of losing even more jobs.

To ease into these extensive regulations, employers have been provided with the option to apply for a waiver. However, these waivers are a temporary fix, allowing employers to maneuver around these unrealistic health care regulations. Currently 733 employers have been given a waiver for the 2.1 million workers affected (HHS 2010). The need for waivers illustrates that the law’s requirements of the new health care plans are not feasible. Questions arise regarding if these waivers are fair. Why are some companies gaining this special treatment? If companies do not apply for these exceptions, they will be forced to follow these unrealistic regulations or they may choose to hire more temporary or contracting workers as opposed to full time employees.

Weak Individual Mandate

To keep the healthcare costs down, an individual mandate has been proposed. Individuals will be required to buy health care or they will be fined. However this fee may not be the best incentive to buy health care. Paying the fee to remain uninsured may be cheaper than paying for health insurance. Furthermore, an individual can simply pay this fee until they need health care, which undermines the cost that is supposed to be distributed among everyone paying for health care according to the law’s purpose.

What to do now?

Problems, such as the cost of the Affordable Care Act, are already arising in the beginning stages of its implementation, and flaws in the cost calculations are being revealed. Just a week ago, President Obama admitted in his State of the Union that he would be open to suggestions regarding changing the health care legislation, illustrating an opportunity to revisit this reform.

Two options exist for our country. Both parties can continue to fight against each other with one side fighting to keep the Affordable Care Act at any cost as it continues to be implemented without bipartisan support; or, on the other hand, this law can be seen as a starting point for creating a sustainable and implementable health care reform. A new policy could be created and passed with bipartisan votes and, more importantly, be supported by a large majority of the American public.

If the goal is to truly improve our country’s health care system, then we need to focus on creating a strong law that will be maintained, regardless of which party gains control in the executive and legislative branches as opposed to sticking with an obviously flawed policy.

Citations
Fritz, C. “Area Small Businesses Brace For ObamaCare’s Jobs-Killing Taxes, Mandates.” John Boehner. Updated 24 May 2010. Available at: http://www.johnboehner.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=186885.
 
“Helping Americans Keep the Coverage They Have and Promoting Transparency.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Updated 26 January 2011. Available at: http://www.hhs.gov/ociio/regulations/approved_applications_for_waiver.html.
 
Khan, H.; Karl, J.; Wolf, B. “Health Care Bill: House Passes $938 Billion Bill, Sweeping Legislation on Its Way to Become Law.” ABC News. Updated 21 March 2010. Available at: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/HealthCare/health-care-bill-house-passes-sweeping-reform-legislation/story?id=10162080.

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