Healthcare is one of the gravest concerns of any civilized society. Keeping people healthy is not often a simple feat. Instead, it requires an extensive program of financial and community support to be put in place (Sommers, Buchmueller, Decker, Carey & Kronick, 2013). Ultimately, the goal of any healthcare legislation is to make medical care both more affordable and more accessible to the greater population. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) sought to do both of these things while simultaneously recognizing how the two are inter-related to one another. As seen in the North Carolina case study, people who were below the poverty line already received government assistance with obtaining healthcare (Milstead, 2013). That is not to say that ready access is synonymous with this type of monetary assistance. Other matters in the life of an individual and a family can affect the overall health status of the family (Sommers, Buchmueller, Decker, Carey & Kronick, 2013). For example, in other healthcare programs of the past, children were covered much like they are today; however, if a child’s parent made slightly more than the national poverty amount they may not be eligible for subsidized healthcare. If this child’s parent were to have a dangerous car accident, the financial burden of the parent’s medical bills would put the stability of the entire family at risk (Cantor, Monheit, DeLia & Lloyd, 2012). The ACA worked to rectify such disparities by providing equal access for the entire family.
Goals of the Affordable Care Act
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is ripe with intricate detail, there are a few main goals that define the new laws. Most importantly, the ACA was passed with the goal of making healthcare affordable for everyone. This goal has wider implications on the economy. Not only did the government wish to make healthcare more affordable on an individual level, but also to reduce the costs of specific procedures and interventions so the government is not as weighed down by the financial costs either (Milstead, 2013). When regulated by governmental bodies, individual procedures can become less expensive. This decreases the financial burden on the government and on individuals. If goals of the ACA are promoted in tandem and achieved effectively, it would hopefully increase the number of people who are covered in general. While the financial implications of affordable healthcare are essential to this discussion, there are also a myriad of ethical issues at play (Milstead, 2013).
It is undeniable that everyone deserves a healthy body and mind. While some people may be more successful in their own careers or businesses that is not to say that each and every person does not deserve help from a medical professional when it is indicated. In many ways, healthcare is one of the inalienable rights highlighted in the constitution. There is a delicate balance in society where every member is important no matter his/her perspective, social status or career. Is it not also important that every person have the potential to live a healthy life? While many people consider this issue when a life is at stake, one of the most effective aspects of healthcare is when it is used in a preventative measure (Koh & Sebelius, 2010). The ACA, in fact, provides coverage for many preventative measures including a widespread smoking cessation campaign. Mammograms are also another example of preventative services that are covered by the ACA (Sommers, Buchmueller, Decker, Carey & Kronick, 2013). While no one can deny that early detection is a positive outcome of the ACA, these services need to be coupled with an increase in education about the importance of such services. People in support of the ACA would be well reasoned to support future research about the best ways to teach the public about the ACA and the important procedures the laws provide that were once considered exclusive.
Controversy in the Affordable Care Act
Not everyone agrees with the expansions made to health insurance in recent years. Some individuals find this increase in coverage particularly offensive because ACA requires support from taxpayers who may or may not be intimately linked to those people who now receive coverage but may never have in the past (Sommers, Buchmueller, Decker, Carey & Kronick, 2013). This issue is particularly significant in the context of the Medicaid/Medicare expansion laws that were imparted as a quintessential part of the ACA. Medicaid and Medicare are meant to represent those people who do not receive health insurance through their jobs. Young people can benefit from Medicaid while elderly, disabled, and retired individuals can procure Medicare. While both systems have been in place for a long while, the ACA afforded more capitol for both of these organizations so they could better handle the growing number of elderly people who were uninsured while also supporting families in need of proper medical coverage. There are more people covered by insurance through these avenues than there have been in the past. This is in large part due to the legalities put in place by the Affordable Care Act (Milstead, 2013).
Successes of the Affordable Care Act
In many ways, the ACA has been largely successful in achieving the goals in which its inventors set forth. Through these laws, there have been many new mechanisms introduced into the system of governmental healthcare including but not limited to, subsidies, insurance exchanges and coverage for all applicants. Not only is coverage more available, but the ACA also requires that everyone receive similar payment plans for their insurance. Essentially, in general there is more legislation in control of equal access to healthcare in place now than there ever was before (Blumenthal & Collins, 2014). This is not to mention the increasingly strict, and ultimately constitutional wording regarding equal coverage for all races and genders. Similarly, those with pre-existing medical conditions cannot be denied health insurance as they might have previously been denied in the past. An individual suffering from cancer certainly see a huge effect as a result of this law as they could receive individualized coverage without exhausting every resource in the event that they survive.
Aside from the general success that many people have been able to achieve a feeling of comfort when previously this would have been denied, there are very specific positive outcomes that have occurred as a direct result of the ACA. As evidenced in the North Caroline case study, an increasing number of individuals receive healthcare subsidies from the government since the onset of the ACA (Milstead, 2013). Amongst these individuals are an increasing number of those who were never previously insured. In particular there are tax penalties in place for people who are not enrolled in healthcare coverage that encourage more and more people to have backup coverage. In a word, the ACA has been largely successful in achieving primary goals for the nation as a whole.
While most of the effects of the ACA are positive, there are some negative possibilities inherent to the Affordable Care Act. For example, with more people benefiting from access to coverage, there is a greater influx of people coming to medical appointments. It is important that the system expand to accommodate this growth so there are enough medical professionals in place to see patients. Subsequently, physicians, nurses and other professionals should be continually employed to give their opinions about the healthcare system. It is these professionals who can navigate the complexities of the current medical system as well as anticipate concerns for the future of healthcare.
- Blumenthal, D., & Collins, S. R. (2014). Health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act—a progress report. New England Journal of Medicine, 371(3), 275-281.
- Cantor, J. C., Monheit, A. C., DeLia, D., & Lloyd, K. (2012). Early impact of the Affordable Care Act on health insurance coverage of young adults. Health services research, 47(5), 1773-1790.
- Koh, H. K., & Sebelius, K. G. (2010). Promoting prevention through the affordable care act. New England Journal of Medicine, 363(14), 1296-1299.
- Milstead, J. A. (2013). Health policy and politics: A nurse’s guide. Burlington, MA:
Jones & Bartlett Learning.
- Sommers, B. D., Buchmueller, T., Decker, S. L., Carey, C., & Kronick, R. (2013). The Affordable Care Act has led to significant gains in health insurance and access to care for young adults. Health affairs, 32(1), 165-174.