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Understanding the Affordable Care Act: Point and Counter-Point

Healthcare is a Commodity, Not a Right

During President Obama’s first term in office, a bill was passed on the floors of Congress that would highlight the debate over which form of healthcare is the most effective. The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” was built on the idea of a government-sponsored healthcare system. With the promise that Americans “could keep their doctors if they liked them,” the goal was to provide coverage for the millions of uninsured people throughout the country and establish universal healthcare.

Although made with good intentions, it has been detrimental to the economy and

its taxpayers. Premiums for healthcare have risen by over 30 percent in some counties across the country, causing many insurance companies to withdraw from states including Nevada, Arizona, and countless others. Monopolies are emerging in these areas, leaving Americans with little to choose from.

Free market healthcare is more economically sound because it produces higher quality healthcare and gives autonomy to consumers. Competition is one of the key driving forces in a free market economy. It forces a business to deliver its best product to the market while maintaining high quality. Failure to meet these areas would result

in a loss of business and customers to other competitors. This same concept applies to healthcare.

However, some may say that it is unreasonable and even immoral to compare producing a piece of furniture to potentially saving someone’s life. The consequences of selling a faulty chair, versus putting someone’s life at risk from malpractice, are worlds apart.

While these are good points, healthcare in its essence is a product, not an entitlement. It would be impossible to provide the best healthcare if a blanket form of coverage were to be implemented nationwide. Each individual has different medical

needs, which is why competition must exist between insurance companies. Without competitors to force innovation and excellence among a company, there will be no incentive for quality health care.

The government has no threat of losing business with no competitors, and its sole source of revenue would be from taxes. Regarding consumer choice, personal autonomy is a central ideal to our country. In a free market economy, consumers express their desire for a product or service by using their “dollar votes” and spending money on what fits their needs best.

Some health insurance policies may appeal to individuals because of cost, quality, or even their stage in life. For example, from 18 to mid-twenties, most individuals are entering their prime physically. Thus, their sense of urgency to have high quality healthcare is not as dire as that of a retired senior, or even a middle-aged American. Furthermore, centralizing healthcare forces Americans who are already insured to pick up the bill for those who don’t pay, which is why premiums are rising at an exponential rate.

Free market healthcare may not necessarily be implemented in its purest form, but if legislators are to salvage the economy from its current quagmire, even a resemblance of free market healthcare would be the most pragmatic solution.

Zachariah Henderson is a junior majoring in business finance.


The Affordable Care Act for Dummies

The controversial Affordable Care Act is one of the most discussed pieces of legislation from the Obama era. Championed by many and criticized by all, the ACA is nowhere near perfect–however, it improves fatal flaws within the current healthcare system. The ACA cannot be repealed without serious repercussions that would drive up the cost of healthcare for many and leave millions of Americans without health insurance.

Due to its complexity and criticism, most are unaware what brought about the creation of the bill in the first place. The ACA was initially constructed by President Obama in response to the healthcare epidemic that was growing around illegal immigrants. Because these individuals did not have healthcare plans out of fear of deportation, they did not go to primary care doctors when sick or injured–instead, they went to the emergency room.

At the ER, it was a frequent occurrence for these individuals to not pay their medical bills in entirety or at all. The ACA did not allow these illegal immigrants to obtain health insurance plans, but stepped in to make sure every individual had access to proper healthcare in appropriate locations. This was fleshed out in the ability for illegal immigrants to have easier access to clinics, which led to a reduced number of costly ER visits. This is crucial, as ER costs have increased notably with no direct correlation to the costs required to perform treatment.

There are immense benefits to the ACA. It actually slows the rising cost of healthcare and has provided 16.4 million citizens insurance since its creation. It accomplishes this by requiring the general public to be insured as well as making preventative healthcare free. For perspective, in 2004 the cost of healthcare increased by 4%, whereas in 2016 the cost of healthcare only increased by 1.2%.

The ACA also put more practical standards on healthcare plans. It requires all plans to cover 10 basic healthcare needs–mental health, addiction, and chronic illness, for example. These issues used to drive many patients to the ER which then drove up people’s Medicaid taxes. The ACA, most importantly, prevents health insurance companies from denying coverage or raising premiums for pre-existing conditions. Last but not least, as I am sure most of us college kids are aware, the ACA enabled us to stay on our parents’ healthcare plans until we are 26 years old!

While the ACA may not be the perfect system, it is actively improving the healthcare system as a whole. Like most legislation, its effects cannot be accurately considered until many years after the conclusion of its passage and enactment. The threat of repeal is coming too soon to truly tell the full effects and benefits of the ACA, and a repeal could bring serious repercussions to the accessibility of healthcare in the U.S.

Kate Warner and Ryan Binder are both sophomores majoring in political science.


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