Health Care Reform

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by Carolina on April 28, 2010

After months of debate that has played out across every conceivable form of media, Barack Obama, The President of The United States has signed into law the most critical social program named the Health Reform. More than half of the Americans still do not understand how they will be affected by this reform, which consists on a package of insurance regulations, tax credits, and new programs. Americans would like to know about how their families will benefit, what they will really pay, whether they will get better or worse care, and what could go wrong from here. There are some questions that need answers: Where will you get insurance? Will you pay more or less for it? What will reform do to your tax bills? And the most crucial question: is the new system likely to leave you with better or worse access to quality HEALTH care? The answers are not obvious. But what it is known is that this new law does not create a UNIVERSAL health plan like Canada’s, or our Medicare system. Instead, this new law builds a system designed to catch people who do not get insurance at work and cannot afford to buy their own, people who lose their jobs, who have pre-existing conditions, or who want to create businesses and insure themselves and their workers. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that under the law eventually 94% of legal residents will have HEALTH coverage, up from 83% today.

For most of us, not a lot will seem to change at first. The CBO estimates that in 2019, 160 million Americans will still be getting their insurance from their employers, paying about the same rate as they would have without reform, and millions more will continue to buy private insurance. The new health reform will ensure access to coverage. In order to provide this, the law takes money out of some pockets and puts it into others. This basically works in the way that if you are affluent, you could pay higher taxes; if you are not, you might get tax credits to help you to buy insurance. In a statement, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sought to highlight some positive findings for seniors. For example, the report concluded that Medicare monthly premiums would be lower than otherwise expected, due to the spending reductions. “The Affordable Care Act will improve the health care system for all Americans, and we will continue our work to quickly and carefully implement the new law,” the statement said.

The U.S. spends $2.5 trillion a year on health care, far more per person than any other developed nation, and for results that aren’t clearly better when compared to more frugal countries. After a year of debate, the law would create new health insurance markets for individuals and small business. It is expected that in 2014 most Americans would be required to carry health insurance except in cases of financial hardship. Tax credits would help many middle-class households pay their premiums, while Medicaid would pick up more low-income people; and insurers would be required to accept all applicants, regardless of their health. This health reform is getting a mixed verdict in the first comprehensive look by neutral experts: More Americans will be covered, but costs are also going up.

To understand how reform will affect us, we might answer these key questions:

  • How could Health Reform help me?
  • What is the new law going to cost me?
  • Where could it go wrong?
  • What does health reform fail to fix?

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