The Affordable Care Act Still Ushers Slow Changes in the American Healthcare System
Striking up a conversation about healthcare has been an uncomfortable topic for Americans for quite some time. Other industrialized countries around the world are able to insure their entire population with quality healthcare, at no expense to any citizen. In 2010, President Barack Obama issued the Affordable Care Act (ACA), making it a law to make sure that every American is provided healthcare. The United States took a big step to attain this goal, but cost, quality and access continue to be restraints. With important expenses like home mortgages and appliance bills, healthcare has arguably become more important and more expensive. In contrast to other industrialized countries, Americans have to pay very large amounts every year to remain insured. “Out of the number of bankruptcies in the US every year, about 62% of them are because of medical bills.” If everyone in the US was covered, the cost per household would not even be comparable to another country. “That means out of those insured, about 700,000 Americans would go bankrupt every year.” The cost per household adds to the national spending amount which has risen substantially. “About 18% of the US GDP is spent on healthcare.” That number accounts to more than a few trillion dollars.
The healthcare companies have grown into some of the richest businesses in the country. “For every dollar spent on healthcare, 24% of it goes to the healthcare administrator.” For how much money those companies are making, many people would think it would open opportunities for easier access and better quality service. That is an achievable feat for health insurance companies, but it does not fully come to fruition. (Palfreman, 2009). The access to healthcare can be a frightening scavenger hunt for some Americans. “The ACA has brought the number of people uninsured down to less than 10%, but still around 30 million people are not insured.” That is a surprisingly big number of citizens who are deprived of support if they were to be hospitalized. Not being able to get health coverage can ultimately cost someone more than their money can buy. “About 20,000 Americans die each year from inability to get health care coverage.” So while others suffer, others either are forced or choose to keep their lived the same. “A number of Americans remain working at undesired jobs, refuse to divorce their partners, and refrain from retirement fearing they will lose their coverage.” Not wanting to retire brings up an important point about how people are covered by their jobs. “Over 160 million Americans are provided private health insurance through their employers. By law, they cannot be rejected or charged if they are sick.” While those people are covered, there runs the risk of what it is going to cost the company to cover all of its employees. “Back in 2006, Microsoft had to lay off around 5,000 workers to still be able to provide complete coverage for the rest of its employees.”
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Even for the big companies, sometimes sacrifices have to be made to keep the majority covered. Either individually covered or by employee status, the quality of the coverage would not seem like a primary concern. (Palfreman, 2009). Other than cost and access, the quality of healthcare is a focus that remains to be under question. Some of the top insurers even fail to fully support their clients. “Around 25 million Americans are underinsured, and will not be fully covered if sick.” That either means more money is coming out of their own pockets, or the pocket of their employer providing them the coverage. Forgetting the amount of money not being accounted for, the information being upheld from Americans is also a problem. “Close to 82% of Americans do not get the recommended counseling and education for their conditions and coverage.” So essentially the insurance companies are making people pay a portion out of pocket, and not telling those people what they are paying it towards. The quality of health insurance is skewed because of the absence of coverage and information, but could be corrected with advances by the ACA. (Palfreman, 2009). The uninsured rate has gone down, access to coverage has become easier and the ACA seems to be working to an extent. Millions are still uninsured, the amount of GDP is still very high and the cost for quality are still problems. Revisions are happening and changes await to be made, but progress seems to be happening to ensure coverage for every American.