Americans are very fond of saying that they live in the best country in the world. But, you will not meet too many people who will say that the Americans have the best health care system in the world. That is probably the reason why the Affordable Care Act created such a reaction in the nation. Everyone had an opinion. Nobody was indifferent, and the expectations are very high. People are expecting this one piece of legislation to fix all that is wrong with the American health care system. But can it?
What is wrong with American health care system?
According to The Commonwealth Fund Report on the health care comparison between the 12 industrial nations, the US health system is not showing the results that are expected considering that it is the most expensive of all. In 2008, with $7,538 per capita, Americans spent more money on health care than all other industrial nations. The States had lower number of physicians and hospital beds per capita than other countries as well as lower number of doctors’ and hos pital visits than almost all other countries. On the other hand, the cost of each hospital visit was highest in the U.S. Highest were also the use and price of prescription drugs. The US scored well when it came to the five-year survival rate for patients with several types of cancer, but had the highest number of hospital admissions for major chronic diseases and the highest number of diabetes-related amputations.
While the numbers the report compares are not showing the full picture, they are definitively showing the disparity between the money spent and the results achieved. The Affordable Care Act is trying to address at least the most important issues.
What is the Affordable Care Act?
The Affordable Care Act is a health care law that President Obama signed in March 2010. Its main goals are to provide medical care to much larger number of people than before, and to reduce the total cost of health care at the same time.
The law has a series of new protection measures for people with health insurance. And that is the bottom line: this law is about health insurance coverage and benefits. If you do not have insurance, or you cannot get one, you are out of luck. But, until this law, many people who had insurance could not get the care they needed because of the small print many insurance plans had and people were not aware of. The law forces insurance companies to do what they are paid for.
The changes that the law puts in place will take place in stages, and should all be implemented by 2014.
The main changes
1. If you have health insurance and you get sick, your insurance company will not be able to cancel your coverage.
2. Insurance plans have to cover the costs of proven screening and preventative services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies. People on Medicare will have this same service without any cost to them.
3. Young adults can be on their parent”s health plan until they are 26.
4. Small businesses can get government help for paying for the health insurance for their employees.
5. Insurance companies are not allowed to deny health coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. In the future, this will extend to adults as well.
This is just a small preview of the changes already in place, or to be implemented within the next two years. To find the issues that affect you personally, check the government answers page.
Whether the law will manage to address the most pressing issues affecting average Americans, only the time will tell. This is not a free medical care plan. Insurance plans still cost money and to buy them, regardless of how cheap some new plans might be, you need to be employed or to have sufficient income to cover it for you and your family. Many people don”t. Many companies cannot afford to cover their employees. The law promises to boost the power of Medicaid and to make more money available for Medicaid services but not everyone is eligible for Medicaid. One important issue that the law addresses is the focus on prevention and the regular screening as the way to catch any disease while its treatment is still possible and inexpensive. By far the cheapest health care plan is healthy lifestyle.