In early October, most American households received a letter from their employer regarding their future choices of their insurance policy, or lack thereof. Most young students do not have to worry much about this, because under the Affordable Care Act, you can now be covered by your parent’s employer’s health care until you are 26, or you have government or college-provided health care. But some Americans received an additional letter at this time from their private insurance carrier stating that their current policy may be cancelled due to the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). While the latter has received more exposure, it only affected a little more than 4 million Americans. So if you are part of the 80% of Americans who currently have health insurance through their parents, school, government, or employer, there is not much to worry about (The Huffington Post, “The Biggest Myth About Obamacare,” 09.23.2013).
While most of the Republican pundits are griping about this policy turning the United States into the ‘Socialist States’ and forcing Americans to purchase something, the estimated number of uninsured Americans will decrease by approximately 14 million, and insurance carriers can no longer deny clients with pre-existing conditions. If one chooses not to enroll in health insurance, they are penalized only $95, or one percent of their income, and that’s only if they don’t qualify under one of the many exceptions, such as low or no income. But why is there so much misconception surrounding this act? Some polls show that over half of Americans are uninformed about this law.
Last October, the founder and CEO of Papa John’s Pizza made remarks about the potential rising costs per pizza sold to compensate for the new healthcare costs. But ‘Papa’ John Schnatter was severely criticized for previously giving away two million free pizzas that year, at the potential cost of $32 million, and stating later they would have to cover an additional $5 million in healthcare costs for his employees, which built him a 40,000 square-foot estate with a 22-car garage in Kentucky. Is this what the ‘American Dream’ and the spirit of entrepreneurship has brought us (Huffington Post, “Papa John’s Obamacare Costs Are Far Less Than Price Of Free Pizza Giveaway”, 11.14.2012)?
While the Affordable Care Act is in no way perfect, I believe that healthcare is now a basic human right, such as air, water and food, and should be as accessible as possible. While I think the most ideal system would be something similar to Australia’s universal healthcare, it would be a huge step for Americans towards a government deemed Socialist. Australia’s model of universal healthcare seems to be the most successful, and while all countries utilizing a national system have their own modern folklore of patients scheduling doctors appointments months in advance and emergency rooms not seeing patients for tens of hours, there are more credited tales of the aptitude of this system than not. Australians use a publicly funded program, which covers doctors, hospital care, and prescription drugs.
Australians also have the ‘Cadillac’ option, which is the opportunity to use an additional private insurance, which is subsidized by the government, and can cover anything from dental work to elective surgeries. There are private hospitals and doctors, but most accept nationally sponsored patients, and are compensated equally for this. The Australian government is also constantly working to streamline care and service at public hospitals, and has wisely funded research to regional networks to strengthen the general care (Quora, “Difference Between Obamacare and Australian Health Care System,” 08.27.2012).
I think a system like this would not only provide exceptional service and create more jobs in health care, but could also build a sense of unity among Americans concerned over health. People could become more self-aware if they are using this service and only schedule a few check-ups a year, only visiting the emergency room with a true emergency instead of sitting in the waiting room with a severe cold.
—Angela Della Croce ’15 is an economics major.