Obama Care refers to a law for the United States’ healthcare reform that is aimed at expanding and improving care access while curbing spending via taxes and regulations. The focus of this law, also called the Affordable Care Act, is on the provision of access to health insurance at an affordable price to more Americans, improvement of health care quality as well as health insurance, regulation of the health insurance sector and reduction of spending in healthcare in the United States. There are hundreds of provisions of this law that are aimed at addressing different healthcare crisis’ aspects in the United States.
When and why Obama Care was enacted
Officially, this law was known as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and President Barack Obama signed it into a United States’ law on March 23rd, 2010. Majority of the provisions of this law are already effective and the others are being rolled out till 2022. Before the enactment of this law, many Americans with pre-existing medical conditions had limited access to quality healthcare. Insurance companies could drop sick people when they needed their help. Some people could not access preventative services and other health benefits.
Some of the reasons why this law was enacted include:
- To eliminate the limit for healthcare access among people with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, cancer and heart disease.
- To stop insurance firms from dropping patients when they need their help most.
- To offer protection against discrimination on gender basis.
- To expand preventative services that can be accessed freely and health benefits.
- Expand CHIP and Medicaid.
- To improve Medicare.
- To ensure that larger employers insure employees.
- To establish a marketplace for a subsidized insurance that offers low-cost or free healthcare to individuals, families as well as small businesses.
- To decrease expenses on healthcare and deficit.
How Obama care works
By 2014, the Affordable Care Act required Americans to keep their current plan or get health insurance which is also known as the minimum essential coverage and keep it throughout every year. Failure to do this, one is required to pay a fee called “shared responsibility” or get an exemption on the Federal taxes at the end of the year for every month the individual does not have the coverage. It is only at the time of open enrollment that one can get private insurance outside or inside the market place. It is important to note that other types of insurance have their unique periods for enrollment. Having insurance is part of the provision of the Affordable Care Act and it is called the Individual Mandate.
Getting health insurance under the Affordable Care Act
There are many ways of getting health plans which are the minimum coverage considered essential. You can buy your health plan via a broker, get it through work, direct from the provider, via the healthcare program by the government such as Medicaid or Medicare, or you can buy your plan from the health insurance marketplace of your state online.
The official health insurance marketplace is the Healthcare.gov. This is where you can access cost assistance. There are official marketplaces for different states. However, you are required to sign up at the time of open enrollment to access and use the marketplace. With this law, everybody who does not have health coverage is required to get coverage by 1st January each year. If they can, pay a monthly fee or get an exemption. As of 2015, the fee was $325 per individual, $162.50 per child, or simply 2 percent of the income. For a family, the maximum fee should not exceed 300 percent of the minimum penalty. Thus, for a family in 2015 was $975.
Importance of Obama care
There are many Americans who have benefited from this law which continues to expand the Americans’ access to quality health services while controlling the rising costs of healthcare. Due to this act, additional 6.6 million young adults who include over 1.4 million minorities now get coverage before they get jobs. Americans with pre-existing medical conditions are accessing healthcare. The existing healthcare facilities have been improved and community health facilities expanded to provide healthcare to more Americans.
Generally, the benefits realized from this law so far include:
- Reduction in the costs of healthcare.
- Strengthened infrastructure and healthcare workforce.
- More consumers’ protection nationwide.
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