Politics Magazine

This Is What Obamacare Is For

Posted on the 21 July 2014 by Thepoliticalidealist @JackDarrant

The controversial Affordable Care Act (ACA) or ‘Obamacare’ has had most of its provisions in effect since the New Year, and the past months have seen a massive expansion in health insurance coverage across the American population. Although many Americans are suspicious of anything resembling ‘Big Government’ and the Republicans have made political capital out of the technical failures that affected the scheme, the benefits of Obamacare are beginning to be felt by the population. Soon, it will become politically impossible to return to the bad old days of the profiteering, shady and unregulated healthcare market.

Yes, the ACA is a pale reflection of the ‘ideal’ system (business should have no place at all in healthcare, for example) and its coverage is patchy, as individual states can vary the extent to which they implement it. However, one key provision is universal, namely the rule that health insurers can no longer charge higher premiums, or refuse coverage, to those with pre-existing medical conditions. The unjust situation in which those suffering from long-term illness were often financially crippled by bills they could not insure themselves against is pretty much a thing of the past. About time too. A rich society like the US which can afford to support the sick but chooses not to is not a healthy one as a whole.

In the news, we now hear heartwarming stories of low-paid and unemployed Americans being able to visit GPs (‘family doctors’) for the first time. Previously, the only occasion on which they ever saw a doctor would have followed life-threatening injury. As any medical professional or economist could tell you, there are enormous benefits to having diseases treated before they reach emergency stages, in terms of the patient’s wellbeing but also in that they can keep working and have less expensive treatment.

Moreover, I can’t imagine the relief that millions of newly insured Americans must feel now that they have a degree of security. When a person needs medical treatment, they should not have to worry about the cost. People were being scraped off of pavements by ambulances and worrying about the five-figure bill that would result, rather than than the painful injuries they had suffered. The fact that it only takes one accident to cost you, literally in many cases, everything you own isn’t something you can ever forget or ignore. It was just one more dimension to the emotional and mental drag that affects those living hand to mouth. That’s why Obamacare is one of the most progressive measures taken in the US for decades: it has lifted such a burden from so many people.

President Obama was open about his desire the ACA to be his defining act at the helm of the US government. For all its limitations, its a fine legacy to leave.

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