The unknowns of healthcare reform

In 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was made law by the President of the United States. Over three years later, after countless delays and exemptions, the true identity of the law is still unknown to the majority of the American public. Biased media outlets throw their support or dissent toward the legislation, but the following will present both sides and let you, the students of Lawrence University, make your own decisions.

While students in this country tend to shy away from politics, it is important that we understand that this legislation is the first in our generation’s time that will dramatically modify the structure of lifestyle choices in our evolving country.

I believe that a majority of individuals would rather swallow the negatives first before smoothing over them with positives. People across the country are already experiencing problems with the legislation with the number of hours of work they receive in a week. According to the legislation, anyone considered a full-time employee must be offered health insurance.

A full-time employee is defined as a person who works 30 or more hours in a week. In an attempt to cut costs, companies across the country through attrition have been actively rearranging their employee’s schedules to 29 hours or less. Outcries have surfaced about the destruction of the average 40 hour work week that is considered the foundation of the American working class.

Further problems arise through the addition of more individuals into the system through Medicaid and Medicare that directly discourages the devoted people in this country who desire to be doctors. Medicaid and Medicare, both government-run insurance for low income Americans, on average pay 57% of a bill compared to the full payment by insurance companies and insurers of the approved amount of a bill.

While doctors are well compensated, it is hard to agree with essentially punishing people who spend thousands of dollars and sacrifice years of their life to become lifesavers. While these are only two items on the growing list of problems with the legislation, we must be proactive citizens and understand that the flaws of health care reform affect society.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides much-needed reforms to the implementation of health care in our country. Through this legislation, millions of Americans who have been uninsured will be offered health insurance through their employers or will be offered insurance choices through a marketplace.

A positive, especially for students at Lawrence University, is the expansion of the eligibility age of children to continue being covered under their parents’ insurance. While many insurance companies have begun offering this expanded age prior to health care reform, this legislation ensures that all children are given the opportunity. The law does provide further coverage of individuals by mandating that all preventive services be covered at 100% of the approved amount without being subject to a deductible or copayment. This portion of the law is a positive that points our country in the right direction in terms of health and health care. It rewards individuals for being proactive in their lifestyle choices and to ensure cost controls in the future. These positives, along with others, highlight the original goal of health care: Delivering quality care.

In the coming weeks and months, Americans will be subjected to a barrage of statements from politicians, doctors and media outlets about health care reform. While I cannot speak to all of the legislation, I have given a brief outlook of why controversy has become the name on the front of newspapers across the country. Our biggest possible failure of health care reform is to remain silent, to be unaware of the land mines and forget about the rewards.

We as Americans tend to shy away from the politics but for once we must stand strong and care about the law that has the potential to permanently shift us in a different direction. You can now make your own educated opinion on health care reform. We must only ask each other to remember that there are two sides to every issue.