Obamacare: The good and bad
By Jeremy Howell, MHA
CTU Adjunct Professor, Health Sciences
In the last week of June, the Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a law that attempts to reduce the number of uninsured in the United States.
In June, USA Today cited Congressional Budget Office (CBO) statistics showing that 32 million Americans will receive health insurance once the law goes into full effect. Still, 27 million will remain uninsured and 4 million will no longer receive health insurance from their employers as a result of the law. Instead, they are expected to subscribe to a private insurance plan. Low-wage earners may qualify for Medicaid under extended provisions of the law.
For nearly 50 years, the government has been the owner of a public option that has been responsible for escalating the cost of healthcare: Medicaid. The government's existing public option reimburses physicians and hospitals at below market rates in an attempt to rein in cost; but between 1997 and 2005, Medicaid spending grew three times faster per enrollee than private sector plans.
Government officials have stated that PPACA will allow more Americans to obtain healthcare insurance and overall healthcare costs will decrease. President Obama promised that healthcare reform would "bend the cost curve down." Unfortunately, however, the law will actually increase healthcare spending in the United States. In his paper, “Bad Medicine,” Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute states that the PPACA will cost more than $2 trillion over the first ten years of enactment and add more than $820 billion to an already staggering national debt. However, the CBO has shown that the bill may reduce the budget deficit by $138 billion over 10 years.
While the spending of healthcare has not or will not be contained, millions of Americans have been positively affected by the bill. Over 3 million young adults have remained on their parents' healthcare plans; 5.3 million seniors and individuals with disabilities have saved $3.7 billion on prescription drugs; and 67,000 people with pre-existing conditions have obtained insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
On the flip-side, the CBO estimates that 10 million to 12 million workers will be dropped from their current employer coverage, even though they were promised by government officials their healthcare plan wouldn't change under the PPACA.
One thing is certain: the debate on how to provide healthcare in this country will not stop with the Supreme Court's ruling. Share your perspective in the comments below or join the conversation with our Dean of Health Sciences, Dr. Kathy Wood, on Twitter @CTUHealth.
Jeremy Howell is an adjunct professor in CTU’s College of Health Sciences. A career officer with the U.S. Navy, he is a Lieutenant in the Navy's Medical Service Corps and currently heads the human resources department at Naval Hospital Bremerton, Washington. He holds his Master’s in Health Administration from the U.S. Army-Baylor University, and his undergraduate degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Opinions expressed here within are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of his employer(s).