Spencer Mishelow – PFA Health Policy Committee Chair
In modern America, many sectors, industries, and policies are undergoing significant changes in regards to their framework and methods of operation. Recently however, one of the most volatile industries has been that of healthcare. Back in 2010 (when President Obama signed his healthcare law) the era where the major aspects would be implemented seemed in the distant future. However, now that January 2014 is only a year away, the changes are encroaching. But what are these changes and whom will be affected? The healthcare industry is comprised of hundreds of thousands of employees from diverse career fields including: nursing, doctors, lawyers, insurers, hospitals and more. Therefore, altering domestic HC (healthcare) has widespread effects and accordingly is very complex and difficult to implement. An article in the January 5th edition of The Economist stated: “Even without controversy, implementation would be complex. The law tries to reform a [healthcare] sector that accounts for nearly one-fifth of America’s GDP. If you’re unfamiliar here are some of the goals and potential conflicts regarding Obamacare (The Economist; Jan. 5, 2013, page 22).
· Beginning in 2014, insurers can no longer refuse coverage to the sick
o The cost of insuring the newly insured sick will be paid out of insurance fees from cheap, healthy consumers—the law requires everyone to buy insurance or pay a penalty
· Extend Medicaid to all those earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level ($15,415 for one adult in 2012).
o However, states may choose whether to expand Medicaid.
· Employers are contesting the law’s requirement that insurance should cover contraception, and the future of two main provisions, the health exchanges and the Medicaid expansion, is blurry.
Extending Medicaid as this law intends will add an extra 21.3M people to the system by 2022. This addition will require states to spend an extra $8.2B and the Federal Government to spend an extra $800B from 2013 to 2022.
All young Americans should be concerned with this for many reasons. First, this means an increase in the cost of healthcare for all individuals is likely to occur and all current deficits and debts incurred will be our burden to fix. However, I am not oblivious to the fact that many of those who need it most are unable to receive healthcare. This is just one of our abundant dilemmas that we, as young American citizens/residents, will face in our future. Lastly, an ethical dilemma that many have with Obamacare is that even though one may be a health consciousness person, they will be required to pay for the impacts of a life of unhealthy choices that many Americans chose to embark upon. Obamacare may be rooted in equity, but there are still many imperfections that must be ironed out. Unfortunately, a truly altruistic solution is unlikely to occur in the current bipartisan system where the opposing faction explicitly rejects change that furthers the agenda of their “rival” party.