On Thursday, June 28, 2012 the Supreme Court of the United States issued its long-awaited ruling on the constitutionality of the Obama health care overhaul. A bitterly divided court upheld the law as constitutional. In doing so, the court did not end the fight over “ObamaCare.” It simply teed up the ball for the American people and left the final decision to the voters. The court also provided a rallying cry for Mitt Romney and virtually guaranteed a united Republican Party. But we’ll get to that later. For now, the facts: By a 5-4 vote, the court let stand most of the law’s provisions, including the law’s most controversial component, known as the “individual mandate,” which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a fine to the government. The court ruled that the mandate was not a “penalty,” as Democrats had claimed, but a tax. Oops.
On September 20, 2009, Barack Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview that the mandate in his health care law was quote “absolutely not a tax.” During the 2008 campaign, Obama pledged that he would not raise taxes on anyone making under $250,000. As it turns out, Obama was playing fast and loose with the facts. Starting in 2014, the amount owed to the IRS for failure to have health insurance will be $285 per family or 1% of income, whichever is greater. By 2016, it goes up to $2,085 per family or 2.5% of income. But the broken promises do not end there. Obama repeatedly said that under his plan, Americans could keep their health care plans if they liked them. He said his law would cut health care costs and would not add to our national debt. Those claims have also turned out to be false. But perhaps most disturbing is that under Obama’s health care law, Americans may lose control over their health care decisions. The law creates IPAB, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which consists of 15 unelected bureaucrats who are charged with making a wide range of health care decisions. The board was granted the authority to approve or deny treatments. In other words, Washington bureaucrats would be able to ration care by overruling treatment decisions made by doctors in consultation with their patients. While most of us agree that health care reform is needed, more government control is not the answer.
The American people do not like to be hoodwinked. In the days immediately following the Supreme Court ruling on ObamaCare, Mitt Romney’s campaign received over $10 million dollars in donations from across the country. Governor Romney can now count on a conservative base that is even more fired up than it was before the ruling and stands ready for battle in the fall. The healthcare law remains unpopular, and Romney has pledged to “repeal and replace” the law. The Supreme Court has spoken, however the jury is still out on the ultimate fate of ObamaCare. The voters will deliver their verdict this November.
The United States, sandwiched in between Costa Rica and Slovenia is ranked 37th in the world when it comes to health care according to the World Health Organization. The United States ranks 24th when it comes to life expectancy with an average life span of 70 years old. The United States ranks an abysmal 41st when it comes to infant mortality. The United States dominates the list in one key area, per capita spending. The United States spend $7,500 per capita on health care. This figure rockets the United States to the top of the list. France, which ranks number one over all, according to the World Health Organization spends half of what we spend on health care; a measly $3,500 per capita.
In a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act, once fully implemented, will have a positive impact on health care in the United States. There are a few critical provisions of the Act that must be highlighted in order to understand how the Act will make a difference.
The first and potentially the most important provision of the Affordable Care Act is the individual mandate, which requires all persons in the United States to either purchase health care or pay a fine. This provision was enacted as a result of skyrocketing costs of paying for the uninsured. In 2004, the cost of providing healthcare to the uninsured was nearly 125 billion dollars. Hospitals cannot simply absorb this cost; they must pass the cost on to the consumer, in the form of higher insurance premiums. The theory behind the individual mandate is that by requiring all persons in The United States to have insurance or pay a fine, free riders will be eradicated. The 125 billion dollar cost that was passed onto the insured in 2004 will be significantly reduced, thus reducing the cost of health insurance overall.
Moreover, the Affordable Care Act allows consumers to purchase healthcare policies across state lines. An alarmingly large number of states have a single insurance company that dominates the state’s market without any real competition. For example, in Alabama, one insurance company covers 83% of the state’s population. Since the demand of health insurance is inelastic, this insurance company has the ability to charge artificially high prices. By allowing consumers to purchase insurance policies across state lines, the Affordable Care Act uses free market economics to drive the price of insurance costs down. For example, if the price of a specific insurance policy is too high in one state, consumers can then purchase a comparable albeit less expansive plan from another state. This competition will drive the price of insurance down.
The Affordable Care Act has a plethora of other provisions that will prove to be beneficial in the long run. Children can now stay on their parent’s health insurance until they reach age 26. Also, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to someone who has a preexisting condition. The Affordable Care Act is paving the way for a better health care system in the United States.
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