According to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, healthcare is defined as any care, service, or supply related to the mental or physical health of an individual. This includes the treatment, management and prevention of illness and the maintenance of the physical and mental wellbeing of a person with the aid of medical health professionals.
This being so broadly defined, one may think that provided healthcare would be an absolute must, a necessity of life, especially for individuals living in America, the “land of the free. However, 44 million Americans are not able to afford healthcare, the lack of which being the cause of 18,000 preventable deaths a year. The Affordable Care Act, signed into law by President Obama in March 2010, is currently being strongly supported and opposed by U. S. citizens. Which healthcare plan is right for America, whether it be ObamaCare or not, is a controversial debate regarding quality, coverage, and government involvement.
Although there are many valid health care systems, because the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) offers assistance to those who cannot afford or are not provided health insurance through employee benefits, and gives tens of millions of low-income and middle-income Americans access to higher quality health care by providing discounts on state or federal run health insurance exchanges, the U. S. is on the right track to resolving the health care crisis in fully enacting the Affordable Care Act into law.
Although the U. S. Constitution does not guarantee the right to health care, universal healthcare advocates argue this should be revised in order to maintain the values the nation of America was built off of. According to Thomas C. Kelly, a Roman Catholic bishop in Kentucky, “Access to basic health care is a fundamental human right, necessary for the development and maintenance of life and for the ability of human beings to realize the fullness of their dignity. ” In 2004, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences called upon U. S. political leaders to provide universal health coverage for everyone by 2010.
Despite this and the many supporters of universal health care, the U. S. government has still failed to provide this as a basic right to citizens. Universal health care is supported by AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. These organizations and other supporters of the Affordable Care Act make the argument that “our country needs everybody to chip in on the cost of health insurance,” while opponents of this new system make the argument that “the individual mandate violates the original meaning of the constitution.
When the individual mandate is enacted, our country will have more of a whole feeling- healthy people will assist in paying the cost of the people who are ill or injured and will in turn be covered if they become ill or injured. Although many citizens argue against this, claiming that it is unfair, it is a large step up from the crisis we are currently facing with insurance. In modern times, if a patient is unable to pay for services they receive at a hospital, the hospital raises the bills of patients who are able to pay in order to maintain their balance.
Insurance companies are then required to pay these bills, therefore raising their rates, decreasing the amount of Americans covered by health insurance. Not only are insured citizens required to pay more, but uninsured citizens who are able to pay can also be billed higher amounts because the healthcare companies are able to negotiate prices, unlike an individual. Those who are part of the uninsured population are less likely to see a physician, have a regular source of care, use preventive medical services or get treated for chronic conditions, all because of the skyrocketing prices.
This often leads to treatable diseases, such as diabetes, going undiagnosed in early stages and worsening without any care. Between 2000 and 2007, the number of uninsured Americans from age 50 to age 64 increased more than 36 percent, from 5. 2 million to 7. 1 million people. By 2010, 8. 9 million members of that age group were uninsured. It is a frightening thought to realize that while other countries have provided health coverage for decades, the U. S. has not done anything, leaving citizens helpless.
The United States of America stands almost alone as a country that does not provide universal healthcare, being the only one of the thirty three developed nations that has not yet made this decision, which will hopefully change by the year 2014. This image displays the countries that provide a national health insurance policy highlighted in the color green. Countries using a single payer health insurance system include Norway, Japan, United Kingdom, Sweden, Kuwait, Italy, Portugal, Finland, and Canada.
Countries using a two-tier system include New Zealand, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, and Ireland. Countries using an Insurance Mandate system, like the U. S. will soon have, include Germany, Belgium, and Austria. All of these countries had developed a health insurance policy before the year 1980. Each country providing healthcare has devised a very specific system involving regulations, but the four basic systems regarding countries all over the world are known as Hospital Expense Benefits, Physician Expense Benefits, Outpatient Expense Benefits, and Major Medical Expense Benefits.
Hospital Expense Benefits is the most common type of medical insurance system, and covers the cost of hospital rooms and board, laboratory tests, x rays, medication, nursing services, and the use of an operating room. This comes in the form of either cash or services. Physician Expense Benefits covers a surgeon’s operating fees and other services similar to this, Outpatient Expense Benefits covers fees charged by physicians for nonsurgical care, x rays, and laboratory and diagnostic tests, and Major Medical Expense Benefits covers costs from serious illnesses or accidents, the maximum benefits ranging from $100,000 to $1,000,000.
The Affordable Care Act uses an individual insurance mandate system, requiring each individual to be covered by some type of insurance. This guarantees access to coverage to everyone regardless of pre-existing health conditions. The individual mandate satisfies “minimal essential coverage,” defined as coverage under certain government-sponsored plans, employer-sponsored plans, plans in the individual market, grandfathered health plans; and any other health benefits coverage as recognized by the HHS Secretary, such as a state health benefits risk pool.
Those with a religious exemption, those not legally present in the United States, and imprisoned individuals are exempt from the minimum essential coverage requirement. Just like other countries, America would require a very specific and well thought out healthcare system. Even strong challengers of the Affordable Care Act are not succeeding in finding an alternate, superior health insurance plan for the U. S. Their “repeal and replace” tactic has simply become “repeal,” which would leave our nation with not having made any progress whatsoever. James Capretta suggests instead of ObamaCare an “overhaul of Medicaid.
However, this system is in fact only available to those citizens of age 65 or older. Before reaching this age, individuals must obtain health insurance from their employer (if they are lucky) or through the very expensive individual health insurance market. The consequences of this include trapping older workers in their jobs for fear of losing their insurance, draining retirement savings, and forcing families into debt and sometimes bankruptcy. A country so wealthy as ours should not have to undergo these challenges. A family’s future and security should not be determined by their income.
Carol Metcalf, an insured U. S. citizen, has two children, both carrying a rare disease. She recently has been confronted with the stress of her children aging out of their insurance plan. But because of the Affordable Care Act, her children were able to stay on her insurance, and she will not have to worry about spending copious amounts of money to ensure her sons’ health. Speaking on his plan for the future of healthcare in America, Barack Obama has said, “I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.
It has now been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform. And ever since, nearly every President and Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, has attempted to meet this challenge in some way. ” If President Obama is in fact the last to attempt to fix this lingering and ever-growing issue, it is true that we will all be required, as citizens, to secure individual health insurance. But along with this, the Affordable Care Act will make coverage more accessible for anyone, put an end to abusive insurance practices, and control the rising rates of healthcare.