In 2010 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama. Here is a quick look at many of the provisions that have already gone into effect.
- · Children under the age 19 cannot be denied health insurance for a pre-existing condition.
- · Young people can stay on their parent’s health insurance until the age of 26.
- · Health insurance companies will not be able to drop an individual when they get sick.
- · Eliminates lifetime and annual limits on individual insurance coverage costs.
- · Preventative medicine and screenings are free as part of the health insurance policy.
- · Small businesses get a credit to provide health care to their employees.
- · Money is provided to Medicare recipients to fill the “donut hole” in part D prescription coverage.
- · The law requires 80% to 85% of all premiums paid to be spent on health care services.
In the future the bill creates an independent payment advisory board that will recommend health care spending reductions. It requires standardization of billing and computerization of records for ease of use, transferring data, and to save money. And in 2014 it establishes a Health Insurance Exchange with mandatory benefit and cost standards for policies on the exchange. Individuals will be required to obtain insurance or demonstrate it is not affordable. Tax credits for health care will be available for people between 100% and 400% of the poverty level, which is $22,541 in 2010. The act prohibits discrimination based on pre-existing conditions or gender.
Stabilizing health care and keeping down costs for the next 50 years is the goal of a good health care bill. Focusing on costs in the first years of implementation is very short sighted. Provisions in the new health care bill sound like common sense solutions designed to reduce costs and keep people healthy over the long term. Keeping people healthy in the younger years of life will reduce health care costs in the later years of life. Allowing health care issues to go untreated and fester will only increase costs in later years. Later years paid for by government funds and our taxes.
In the latest Congressional Budget Office analysis of the health care bill they show a ten year cost of $355 billion dollars. They show a 10 year savings of $473 billion, for a total savings of $118 billion dollars in the first 10 years. The savings from the next ten years was estimated to be $1.2 trillion dollars.
Between the years 2000 to 2007 premiums for health care through an employer increased from $6,438 for a family policy to $12,106 according to a Kaiser Family Fund report. A 2007 U.S. Census Report indicates that average wages for working-age households declined by around $2,000 per year, and the poverty level for a family of four, increased from $17,603 in 2000 to $21,203 in 2007. With declining wages, increased health care costs, and inflation increasing the cost of everything else, it is not surprising that more people are uninsured or being covered by government programs. These factors also explain many of the bankruptcies across America. A Harvard study showed that 62.1% of all bankruptcies were medically related in 2007, and that 78% of those bankruptcies had health insurance.
The GOP’s alternative has many provisions that are similar to the new health care bill. Similar provisions include high risk health care pools, no annual or lifetime spending caps, preventing unjust cancellation of insurance policies, establishing health insurance exchanges, and insure dependents up to 25 years of age on their parent’s policy. The GOP also includes medical liability reform by limiting non-economic damages to $250,000. The GOP will expand choices by allowing insurance companies to sell health insurance across state lines. The GOP does this by cancelling state’s rights and making the insurance companies “exempt from any covered laws of the secondary state (and rules, regulations, agreements, or orders sought or issued by such State).”
It is time for the United States to focus on a long term strategy for health care, energy policy, taxation, deficits, and many other problems that are dragging down our country. The new health care bill is a start to manage these costs over the long term. The existing health care system costs are expanding at a rate much faster than the growth of the economy. Private and public health care systems need to reduce costs and waste, and focus on keeping Americans healthy over the long term.
The GOP health care bill and the 2010 health care bill have many of the same provisions. By cancelling the entire health care bill to remove a few of the provisions, they risk raising the debt and encouraging an out of control cost structure in the health care industry. The savings and benefits of the new health care bill should be maintained, and only individual provisions should be addressed through further legislation. This will maintain future savings and still allow for adjustments to better the current health care bill.
Currently two federal judges have ruled the new health care bill is un-constitutional. Two federal judges have ruled the bill is constitutional. Twelve federal cases have been dismissed. Many in Washington are seeking an expedited review by the Supreme Court for a final ruling on the case.
This article is an excerpt of Eric Wilson’s groundbreaking new book, What You Don’t Know Can Hurt America: A Voter’s Guide.
Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on Google Plus
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