Background and Description of the ACA 2010
President Barack Obama signed in 2010 the new health care law known as the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” that extended the health insurance coverage to millions of uninsured Americans in order to guarantee the security and affordability of the coverage (Jacobs and Skocpol, 2012). At the same time, the new health care law has broadened the coverage and aims to reduce the Nation’s budget deficit. The recent studies have shown that proposed reforms will work for the advantage of not just the consumers, employers, but also includes the insurers, health care providers, drug companies, hospitals, Medicard and Medicaid beneficiaries (Parks, 2011). The program is expected to be fully operational for the next decade and is to expire in 2019. The ACA also addressed the problem of minorities such as the Hispanic families based in the U.S. whose number has grown for the past decades. Minority families and their children are underinsured and 31 percent of the population had shown that most of them are Hispanics (Murdock, 2012). The ACA mandates that every individual in the U.S. should be covered by health insurance by 2014. Despite the benefits of the new law, many have opposed the concept that the government will interfere by creating a new health care system (Murdock, 2012).
The Affordable Care Act or ACA had imposed upon the employers the responsibility to care for their employees by educating them on how to be practical and limit their spending on healthcare expenses. Under the ACA, employers are required to provide a compulsory coverage for the adult dependents of each employee but should fall within the age limit of 26 years. Kavilanz (2012) stated that the health plans should offer preventive services including coverage for free mammogram and colonoscopy tests and cannot deduct fees, shared payments and co-insurance. The new healthcare law enhanced the benefits for female employers by providing HIV and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) screening as part of the prevention measures for dreaded diseases such as cancer. In fact, ACA is mandatorily imposed to all employers who manage small, medium or large enterprises to ensure that they provide the health insurance benefit to regular employees to avoid the risk of penalties for non-compliance with the law. Other preventive measures that are provided by the employers pursuant to the health care reform law is to cover health education programs, membership in fitness centers, smoking cessation programs, and pre-natal and post natal care of new born children with baby visits (Feldman, 2012). The law has allowed the employers to make use of the reward system where the employees can draw inspiration start with healthy lifestyle activities. As part of the wellness and prevention programs, the employees enjoy rebates, rewards and premium discounts after maintaining a healthy status of successful weight loss and stopped smoking. Feldman (2012) adds that that rewards ranges from 30 percent to 50 percent based on the cost of the employee-only coverage depending on the cost of the coverage to be determined by the Department of Health and Human Services as what is deemed as proper. In effect, some of the employees who did not meet the health standards set by the employer shall pay higher premiums, than those are given rewards for being able to do away with the surcharges for being healthy. Such scheme is advantageous for the employers by reducing the costs for healthcare and at the same time encouraging wellness of the employees. However, some employees who cannot meet these standards should have medical statements issued by the employee’s physician to verify the true medical conditions of the employees (Feldman, 2012).
There new health care law of Obama has met criticisms especially on the part of the employers by placing these companies at a disadvantage to compete in the world economy. Olson (2012) argued that American firms and employers are not in equal footing with other international corporations who enjoy the benefit of having government subsidized health care services. The biggest part of the income coming from U.S. employers goes to the health care insurance premiums which they pay for their employees. This in effect places the American employers at a disadvantage in the global scene by missing the chance to hire the best people for the position due to limited budget. Regardless of the size, ACA mandates the companies to provide health care for their regular employees. Some of these wealthy companies opted to pay steep fines than instead of allocating budget for health care insurance premiums (Furchtgott-Roth and Banerjee, 2011). The downside of the new health care reform law will significantly affect the small enterprises because of they are required by law to cover health insurance of low-skilled workers in 2014. These are the small businesses that hire 50 or more workers are required by law to provide health insurance coverage to their workers to avoid the annual penalty of $2,000 for every regular worker. It is a struggle for small businesses to comply with health care reform law because of stiff competition with other independent establishments who have similar number of workers or less (Furchtgott-Roth and Banerjee, 2011). The new health care law imposes exorbitant fines as a warning to erring employers. At the same time, the multiple penalties shall be meted by employers if they do not downsize the number of employee or to replace their full-time employees with part-timers workers.
Recommendations to the new health care reform law:
After careful assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of the new health care reform law, these are the recommendations to improve the law: 1.) The law should be strictly enforced against big companies and firms who employ several workers by providing healthcare coverage to full-time employees and imposition of fine for non-compliance (Furchtgott-Roth and Banerjee, 2011). 2.) Small enterprises should allow the employers to avail of tax benefits as a way of incentive by giving health insurance coverage to the workers. 3.) Lessening the cost of penalties for small enterprises since they are being forced to substitute full-time employees with part-time workers. It is unfavorable for the unemployed since employers are discouraged to expand businesses to avoid fines and penalties. 4.) Increase the coverage of minority families and their children whose family income falls under the federal poverty level by providing assistance to low-income families and their children, pregnant women and people with disabilities. 5.) Increase the budget allocation for healthcare centers to be established in different states by giving free consultations and outpatient treatments.
Parks (2011) argued that the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid shows that most of the uninsured population came from the working families. Despite many employees who are still working, they are uninsured by their employers due to ineligibility in accordance to the provisions of the insurance policies. 78 percent of the uninsured adults belong to the native or naturalized American population in the country (Parks, 2011). Further, the influence of the world economy enabled the states to allow the employers to make comparison of the health insurance benefits offered by the insurance companies (Olson, 2012). Stiff competition among insurance companies will result to better offers as they come up attractive packages to entice more firms and individuals. By offering reasonable premiums means substantial savings for firms and organizations to consider expanding their business ventures and maintaining their best employees (Jacobs and Skocpol, 2012). It is also recommended that for the government to formulate new guidelines for insurance companies for the purpose of regulating the rates offered to the public. At the same time, it will open the opportunity to expand the health coverage of the benefits for their members. The government should require the insurance companies to comply with the reportorial requirements to be able to monitor the financial position, administrative costs and implementation of the insurance policies. This action on the part of the government will avoid the steep cost of premiums to help the employers set aside a portion of the health insurance premiums for other purposes.
Citizens’ benefits under the new health care reform law
The Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010 has encouraged the Americans to value their health by promoting fitness and wellness. The new health care system has educated the citizens to take cognizance of the rights, responsibilities and needs as consumers. The new health care system is intended to promote the rights the people by having a strong regard to integrity, respect and morality. The availability of health care services will be for the benefit of majority of Americans in different states. The health care system was created based on the needs of the consumers, instead of focusing on the necessities of the healthcare providers. At present, most of the Americans are uninsured and are burdened to pay for hospitalization expenses in the event of a medical condition. One of the major misconceptions introduced by the old health care law is that Medicare provides long-term care. This misjudgment made Americans believe that Medicare will covers medical benefits such as extended nursing services when they reach the age of 65 is unfounded. At present, members of the working population worry about their retirement and the medical expenses that they will incur in the coming years. Lipson (2002) stated that the most important goal of every person is that after attaining the retirement age, one should be able to preserve his or her dignity and independence. Thus, long-term care planning is an important aspect of the pre-retirement financial planning of every senior citizen. Due to the U.S. financial crises, most of the states limited the coverage of Medicaid benefits. As a result, Medicaid only shouldered the health care expenses of those people who belong to the standard poverty level. In addition, access to good care has become indeterminate resulting from the recession in the U.S. (Meiners, 2012). The importance of health care services should be the utmost concern of every citizen. However, it is unfortunate that even those Americans who belong to the working class remain uninsured to the ineligibility based on the policies implemented by insurance companies. Thus, the information provided by the new health care law will be for the advantage of the people and help the states understand the benefits that are mandated under the new law.
Reasons for Choosing this Topic: Affordable Act of 2010
The Affordable Act of 2010 was chosen to be the topic of this paper is order to assess if the current government programs such as Medicaid had sufficiently provided the healthcare needs of the American citizens. At present, the U.S. government funding is not sufficient to provide long-term care for the people. Due to the present global crises and recession in the U.S., the chances of providing health care insurance for the people to become part of the national policy agenda remained elusive. Providing health care coverage for U.S. citizens of all ages has remained unsuccessful due to lack of government funds to finance the benefit. The American population has seen children who are disabled, adults with disabilities and the elderly who suffer due to existing barriers to sufficient coverage based on cultural, social and economic issues. In fact, some of the current problems are a result of the political climate which controls the allocation of funds for the minority population. At the same time, the elderly and the disabled population clamor for expanded health care programs due to limited medical services to cover their needs. Another factor is the high cost of insurance premiums which makes the health care policies out of reach for average working citizens. The reason for the rising number of uninsured Americans is attributed to the exorbitant prices of health insurance premiums. Thus, the act of President Obama in mandating employers to provide their employees with health care benefit plans should be lauded. The new law signed by the President will be for the benefit of the people since most of the Americans are not covered by health care insurance. The action on the part of the government is in observance of equality and justice by giving every citizen the right to enjoy the same health care benefits. The primary consideration of the government is to protect the rights of those who belong to the minority groups. Such action will promote the dignity, independence and integrity of those who have less in life. At the same time, even though the new health care system encourages contribution of consumers to finance their care, it must be able to provide ample flexibility to meet the demands of all consumers without making any distinctions, and follows uniform financial eligibility criteria (Pratt, 2011). As part of the recommendation, the new system should work for the benefit of all citizens who come from various sectors of society by giving them a unified health care system.
Finally, the student chose the topic on the new health care system as part of educating the citizens of their benefits under the law including the limitations imposed in availing the services. At the same time, it will also help the insurance companies and health care providers to have standard guidelines on the access to health care service imposed upon the consumers, insurers, and hospitals. The new health care system has promoted the principles of integrity, respect and concern for others by setting aside the financial interest of the country by giving the citizens their medical needs. The best health care system must be focused on accessibility and focus on programs must on preventive care. Innovation and change is a work in progress to ensure improved health care services for the people, especially the poor, elderly, disabled and members of the minority. The government must continuously strive to allocate sufficient funding to guarantee universal access for every citizen. One of the ways to avoid excessive use of budget allocations is to identify families who can support their own health care premiums and to provide incentives to those who dutifully pay their dues. It is recommended to continue the reward system to inspire citizens to take an active part to promote the health of country.
The student saw the importance of making a careful study of the advantages and disadvantages of the new health care reform law in order to improve the present law. The health care law must be strictly enforced against big companies to ensure mandatory health coverage for full-time workers and to impose penalties for those employers who do not comply. It is proper to give the small businesses tax benefits as part of their incentive by giving health insurance coverage to their workers. The reduction of penalties for small enterprises is recommended to avoid the substitution of full-time employees with part-time workers. At the same time, discussion of the ACA will present the disadvantage for the employers resulting to increased unemployment rate since employers are discouraged to expand businesses to avoid fines and penalties. The expansion of coverage for minority families and their children whose family income falls under the federal poverty should be provided with the healthcare benefits that they need. In addition, the increased budget allocation for healthcare centers in different states by giving free consultations and outpatient treatments for those who cannot afford medical services is highly recommended for the benefit of the poor and illegal immigrants. It is vital to discuss the welfare of illegitimate immigrants who represent a large percentage of the present population in the country. Most of the emergency health care provided by Medicaid is a part of the federal-state program given only to indigent and disabled persons. The health care benefit does not cover the non-emergency care for illegal immigrants who need to undergo medical consultation and out-patient care. Thus, it is also important to include in the agenda of the government the allocation of medical benefits for illegal immigrants. At present, there is inaccurate data on health care costs that are being spent on illegal immigrants since the community health centers and hospitals have not required their patients to declare their legal status. The study of the Federation for American Immigration Reform in the state of California has given the approximate annual cost of health care amounting to $1.4 billion U.S. dollars spent for illegal immigrants (Wolf, 2012). The availability of health care services will be for the benefit of majority of Americans who come from different states. The new health care system is an important concern that should be looked at in order to address the needs of the people, instead of focusing on the profitability of the healthcare providers.
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