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Obama-care Decoded - Food Pyramid
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Obama-care Decoded

By Mark Slansky
Food Pyramid -

What is health care reform all about?

You may have heard it referred to in the media time and again as Obama-care. Why would national health care be referred to according to a president instead of as a national platform? What all those politicians and interviewees are talking about is a health care reform initiative being spearheaded in Washington. The official title of the plan is The Affordable Care Act. It’s an initiative that aims to assist all Americans on some level by the year 2014; however, some of the benefits of this new program are already being seen today.

As of September 2011, the government estimated that nearly 47 million Americans were living in poverty. As the job market continues to struggle, it is no surprise that numbers in those ranks are on the rise. In the wake of massive unemployment crisis, Washington launched The Affordable Care act as a way to help Americans without health insurance now, and hopefully make an impact in the future. So how exactly does this reform act help those in need?

Preventative health care for women

There is a gender imbalance when it comes to who pays for health care in the United States. On average, the government estimates that women pay 150% more than men. Taking this into consideration, the act focuses on establishing reliable and available preventative service for women. Some of these services will include:

  • FDA-approved birth control options
  • Well-woman visits
  • Domestic violence screenings

For women living at or below the poverty line, these changes could make a substantial difference when it comes to basic health care. Woman who once would have avoided life-saving screenings because of the financial burden, now have access to important health checks at a reduced rate, or possible free of charge.

The price of a pre-existing condition

One of the biggest hurdles to clear for Americans who are uninsured is the monumental price of a pre-existing condition. Even if you have the luxury of being able to afford insurance, many companies won’t take on individuals who suffer from chronic illnesses. These include but are definitely not limited to:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart problems
  • Asthma
  • Epilepsy
  • Even pregnancy!

This situation creates a vicious circle where those who are denied coverage often find themselves out of work because of an illness they cannot afford to treat. The end result is an even greater pool of Americans living at or below the poverty level.

New regulations under The Affordable Care act will require insurance companies to cover Americans with certain pre-existing conditions and be held accountable for reporting why certain patients are denied coverage. These regulations will extend to children with pre-existing conditions and Obama estimates that 4.9 million children who were previously ineligible will now receive health care.

Young adults and health coverage

One of the main goals of The Affordable Care Act is to implement strategies that will reduce health and economic problems from perpetuating down the road. In the recent past, one of the greatest demographic groups of concern were those under the age of 26. This group is made up largely of students and recent graduates who were removed from their parents’ insurance plans at the age of 25.

Obama-care extends the age of parental coverage to 26 in an effort to provide unemployed young adults with health solutions while they search for work. Ideally, this will keep young adults healthy while they seek career positions in the workforce and simultaneously cut down on hefty medical costs that could keep them from making successful progress in their search.

Health security for financial savings

While it may be easy to assume that those who live in poverty in the U.S. are unemployed, this is not always the case. Many families living at or below the poverty line are working, but still unable to meet financial requirements to thrive. When someone in these domestic situations falls ill or has an accident, it can spell disaster. Obama-care takes these situations into consideration by providing more security for working families.

This will be accomplished by requiring insurance companies to report and justify rate increases, limiting premium growth rates and giving Americans the right to appeal when they are denied coverage for a specific incident. The Affordable Care Act also extends to small business owners who are struggling financially. The reform allows small business owners to claim tax credit which they can use towards paying for health care. The government estimates this will affect upwards of 4 million small businesses.

More offerings through Medicaid

For families living in poverty, Medicaid can literally be a lifesaver. The government recognizes the value of this welfare program and has expanded its benefits under the requirements of recent health care reform. Beginning in 2010, the federal government began matching funds for states to offer Medicaid services to a larger number of families. The fields of help that are offered under Medicaid have also been expanded. Mental Health services are additionally available to low-income families; a move that will hopefully add a long-term healing process to the health care benefits of those in need. These additions to Medicaid are part of an effort to not only provide basic health care for Americans, but also offer some assistance towards helping the financially fragile, get back on their feet.

Potential problems?

As with any new government initiative, there are those who are concerned that these new reforms will not be effective. Some Americans fear the changes will ultimately cause more harm than good. A few of the major concerns include:

  • The overall cost of making coverage mandatory
  • The quality of care a universal plan enforces
  • Increased government regulation of the health care system in general

With more American families struggling with their finances, and new government health regulations being rolled out through 2014, it’s important to step back and evaluate what Americans require and how to address the issue of health coverage. Do you think that The Affordable Care Act sufficiently works to help low-income families with health care and take steps toward a better future?


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