The Federal Government shut down Tuesday after House Republicans attached a provision to the continuing resolution that would put off the Affordable Care Act for one year. The continuing resolution – America's current stand-in for an approved budget – stalled in the Democrat-controlled Senate as they refused to fold to Republican demands. All this hoopla has The Daily Beacon asking questions: What is 'Obamacare,' and why do conservatives oppose it? Why do liberals support it? Most importantly, how will it affect college students like us? Staff columnists Evan Ford and Adam Prosise weighed in.
This column is in support of the Affordable Care Act.
I call it the Affordable Care Act instead of 'Obamacare' because people legitimately think they're different. Recent surveys from CNBC, Fox News and Jimmy Kimmel found that Americans significantly prefer the Affordable Care Act to Obamacare. Which is funny, considering they're the exact same thing.
This confusion is concrete evidence of the bad politics and misinformation surrounding the healthcare bill. So I'm going to try to cut through this confusion and present a few arguments with verified facts and hope you're convinced.
Argument 1: If you're a young college student, the Affordable Care Act is awesome for you.
Most of us probably don't worry about health insurance, either because we're still on our parents' plan or because we're generally healthy. For emergencies and chronic conditions, though, healthcare costs can be paralyzing. Fortunately, under the Affordable Care Act, you now can stay on your parents' plan until you're 26.
According to a study by the Commonwealth Fund, 7.8 million more Americans are eligible for healthcare because of this reform. Rather than skipping health insurance, young people like us now have a viable option to protect ourselves. As a result, pretty much everyone likes this provision, including Mitt Romney, the majority of Republicans, and more than 70 percent of the general population.
Some opponents argue it will increase our costs by up to 99 percent.
These (bogus) claims, made by biased groups like the Koch-funded Manhattan Institute, neglect to highlight that 20 to 40 percent of their subjects started out with zero health coverage and now actually have insurance. Pointing out that the costs increase in these cases is as inane as pointing out that your electricity bill goes up when you buy a house.
Argument 2: The overall benefits of the Affordable Care Act vastly outweigh the problems it causes.
I would never claim the Affordable care is perfect. Still, for 60 million Americans who are uninsured, the Affordable Care Act is literally a lifesaver. These people make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but cannot find affordable care elsewhere. Under ACA, these families cannot pay more than 9.5 percent of their income on healthcare.
This year, 2 million Americans will file bankruptcy due to medical bills, making health costs the biggest cause of default. ER visits cost more than $2,000 on average, even for something like a minor headache. Under the ACA, the one-quarter of Americans who struggled to pay medical bills last year should find some relief.
In addition, the ACA requires that insurance companies spend 80 to 85 percent of their earnings on healthcare, instead of siphoning money from people who need help into corporate profits. It also forbids companies from denying sick people healthcare by labeling them with "pre-existing conditions."
These stellar benefits overpower the costs.
Argument 3: Why do you hate 'Obamacare'?
Do you hate 'Obamacare' because of what it does, or because you hate Obama?
Many of the arguments that ACA critics (like my mom) spout off are sadly false. Here are a few that we can clear up in just a few sentences.
Chain-email myths like 'death panels', government-subsidized elective abortions and benefits to illegal immigrants are all explicitly forbidden in the bill, so you can rest easy, Mom.
If you think the ACA takes your money away to help lazy 'free riders' in the 'welfare state,'' your concerns are similarly misguided. This bill, which levies no taxes on consumers, impacts the working and middle classes—families making between $25,000 and $95,000.
Your reasons for disliking the ACA is incredibly pertinent given that many Americans are not forming their opinions based on facts. Americans approve of all but one of the major changes the bill makes, but disapprove of 'Obamacare' in general.
The most popular change—subsidies for small businesses to provide insurance—had an 80 percent approval rating, but less than half of respondents knew it was in the ACA.
Here's the bottom line: the millions of people without adequate healthcare in this country are desperate for change, and the ACA takes a step to help. Providing insurance for 20 million more people and removing abused loopholes like "preexisting conditions" are undeniably good things.
Critics will likely point out that (shocker) this will cost money. A few people will have to change their doctor. Some companies, like UPS, see an opportunity to drop costs by cutting benefits – a function of corporate profit-maximizing, not the ACA's design.
To these criticisms, I simply say, "beat it." Quick to shut down 'Obamacare,' Republicans have repeatedly failed to come up with a positive alternative. ('Romneycare' has been panned repeatedly for its failure in Massachusetts). Unless someone comes up with a replacement, we should work with the system we have, increasing the benefits and reducing the costs.
Doing nothing is not an option anymore, and it's the only one the GOP is giving us.
Evan Ford is a junior in philosophy. He can reached at email@example.com.