Obama has proposed a solution for all of these problems and more with a new health care plan that is starting to be implemented. According to the White House, under the Affordable Care Act, which was passed March 3, 2010, health insurance is mandated for all citizens—similar to current car insurance. To make this possible, it will have the largest tax cuts for health care in history for the middle class—it will make it possible for tens of millions of families and small business owners to afford insurance. It also lays out stricter rules for insurance companies to keep premiums low. Also in an effort to make insurance available and affordable for every citizen, it illegalized discrimination against pre-existing conditions. Another bill that was signed into law is the Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, which provides quality health care to 11 million children – 4 million who were previously uninsured. Obama’s plan is aiming to shorten the gap of health disparities in America.
Although all of these parts of the Affordable Care Act sound great, the act poses a few problems as well. First, it will lower the amount paid to doctors for medical services under Medicaid and Medicare. Insurance companies pay a certain percentage above Medicaid/care costs so as the government lowers the amount paid, the insurance price will also be lowered. For example, a surgery costs $1,500 through Medicaid. A person with private insurance will pay 20% more equaling $1,800. If the law mandates that the government will only pay $1,000 now then the insurance companies will lower their amount paid to $1,200. Granted, some doctors make more money than reasonable and can afford that pay cut, but some doctors may not be able to continue practicing and many may shut their doors to government patients. This is especially a relevant problem now because there are shortages of primary care providers because of so many physicians going into specialties.
Second, Obama’s health care plan spends much more money than before and could be detrimental to America’s economy. According to Republicans in Congress, the health care plan includes almost $1 trillion dollars in spending and will cause health spending to jump even more than the originally projected 16.6% to 17.6% of GDP (gross domestic product) this year alone. Six billion dollars of this budget is proposed to help cancer research—yet the law also imposes pharmaceutical cost controls that will discourage companies from wanting to invest in developing new cancer treatments. With the Affordable Care Act, many businesses will be required to provide insurance to their employees or put money into a government fund to cover the uninsured. With the desperate state of the economy now, this financial burden is the last thing businesses need. Obama’s plan may prove to be successful in the end with a few amendments, but there are still a few bumps in the road on the journey to efficient and effective health care in the U.S.