The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is poised to become the most impactful citizen-related program since Social Security was put into place by the Roosevelt Administration in 1935.
But, to be sure, with a program this new and comprehensive and large, some individuals and businesses alike may not know exactly what Obamacare is or what is expected of the act. For that, here is a short rundown of the program, outlining its goals, requirements, and what the future may hold for it in the coming years, as well as thoughts from those critical of the program.
According to the Obamacare website at http://obamacarefacts.com/whatis-obamacare.php, the Affordable Care Act seeks to give every citizen of the United States, regardless of precondition, access to affordable health care coverage through reform of the American healthcare system.
The main focus of Obamacare is improvement of healthcare quality, as well as regulation of the healthcare insurance industry through reduced spending on healthcare in general.
Signed into law on March 23, 2010, the act¹s main impetus is to set up a Health Insurance Marketplace through which Americans are able to purchase federally regulated and subsidized health insurance.
Obamacare was originally modeled after Romneycare, which was established as Massachusetts¹ own health care reform. Obamacare maintains that 44 million Americans, which makes up roughly 15 percent of the population, does not have healthcare coverage. Another aspect of Obamacare is it helps individuals obtain health insurance through extensive expansions of Medicaid and Medicare.
By mandate, all Americans will need to have some form of health care coverage, be it Obamacare or another program, by January 1, 2014. If not, they face a penalty that will be taken off their year-end tax returns.
Obamacare and The Individual
As Obamacare is reserved almost exclusively for those individuals who do not have healthcare coverage, those who are covered, whether by their own policy or by the policy provided by their employer, will not be affected by the act.
According to the Washington Post, Obamacare is also targeted toward those who are not part of a group plan. In addition, those who make more than what has been established as the federal poverty line, yet four times less for a family of four at $94,200, qualify to buy subsidized marketplace insurance. Individuals who make 133 percent of the poverty line, living in a state that has accepted the Medicaid expansion, can qualify to receive Medicaid.
The Congressional Budget Office projects Obamacare will succeed in covering 25 million Americans by 2020.
Obamacare and Business
The Affordable Care Act maintains that by 2015, a business that employs 50 or more full-time individuals must provide health insurance or face tax penalties. This is widely known as The Employer Mandate or "shared responsibility fee."
The goal this fee is to have employers and businesses "help fund cost-assistance to Americans using the health insurance exchanges and to compensate for unreimbursed emergency health care provided to the uninsured," according to the Obamacare facts website.
Critics of Obamacare
Critics of Obamacare maintain that while the program seeks to provide subsidized health care nationwide, it also is the first in many steps toward socialized medicine. With members of the Republican Party, as well as business owners and some in the healthcare and insurance industries, deriding Obamacare, the national debate over the program has risen to epic levels, culminating with the recent refusal of Obamacare opponents to pass the House budget, and as a result, to cause a government shutdown.
The Future of Obamacare
While critics maintain Obamacare will fail, it is difficult for others to see exactly how that might happen. At the same time, when considering from whom those claims of failure come from, such as big business and Democratic opponents in general, it becomes clear as to why they would want something such as this to come true in lieu of lower insurance costs, and in that, less income for medical procedures, as well as reduced premiums.
Meanwhile, the multitudes who are in need of healthcare crashed the Obamacare website server the first day the service became available. Ironically, in its own Internet failure, Obamacare has shown great promise in popularity. Look for it to be around in the future as affordable health care becomes increasingly common within the United States.
Dave Landry Jr. is a small-business adviser and debt relief manager working with National Debt Relief to assist those in dire financial situations.