Affordable ‘Obamacare’ and you
This Thursday, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that no one anticipated. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (sometimes referred to as “Obamacare”) constitutionality was upheld by a 5-4 vote with Chief Justice Roberts drafting the majority opinion for the court. Before I discuss what this means for Americans and for college students, I am going to explain exactly what the court said. There were two major questions addressed by the Supreme Court in this ruling, the individual mandate and the expansion of Medicaid programs nationwide.
The individual mandate is the core of the Affordable Care Act, it states that every American citizen must have health insurance by 2014 or face a penalty from the federal government. Chief Justice Roberts ruled the penalty in question to be a tax. This is the key to the individual mandate being ruled constitutional because Congress has the right to levy taxes.
The nationwide Medicaid program expansion was upheld with some restrictions. This part of the Affordable Care Act essentially threatened states with a loss of federal funding if they did not expand eligibility for Medicaid to cover those who could not afford to purchase health insurance. Chief Justice Roberts also wrote the majority opinion for this section within which he stated that Congress may threaten to not offer additional funding to states that do not extend their Medicaid programs, but they do not have the right to take away funding that states are already receiving. The federal government has offered to fund approximately 95 percent of the expansions in every state, so it is likely that almost every state will expand their program, no questions asked anyway.
With this ruling, the United States enters into the same club as nations like Canada, Russia, Brazil, Australia, and almost every European country that already has some sort of universal healthcare system in effect. The individual mandate represents a shining beacon of humane and ethical treatment for everyone in this country.
The Affordable Care Act effectively puts an end to private insurance companies abusing people for their own selfish and greedy gain. Insurance companies must now spend 80 cents of each premium dollar you pay on your insurance. These companies can also no longer cancel coverage when you get sick, they can no longer set lifetime benefit limits that can leave people without coverage when they most need it, and they can no longer deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. But that’s not all.
As a college student, it is important for you to know that you can now stay on your parents health insurance plan until the age of 26. This gives you a fighting chance to get a job and be financially stable when the time comes for you to purchase your own health insurance plan. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act covers preventative care which includes a large number of immunizations, screenings for select conditions such as STIs and depression, and it even covers some forms of contraception. All of this is covered without you having to pay a copayment. We are the future of this country and our government wants and needs us to be healthy.
The Affordable Care Act is an excellent start toward reforming our nation’s healthcare system. This law is a victory for the people, the people who this government is actually supposed to work for, and this November I hope that you remember which candidate is on the side of the people. #Obama2012
For more information on the Affordable Care Act and what is means to you visit: whitehouse.gov/healthreform/