by Rachel Kelley, ’12
President Obama spent much of the first year of his presidency working to pass health care reform. Remember 2009 – before all the bank bailouts and ending wars and budget battles? Remember the confusing, drawn-out process that was passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?
That’s OK. Most of the United States probably doesn’t either.
Despite that unfortunate gap in (many – not all) Americans’ civic attentiveness, everyone seems to have an opinion about “Obamacare” anyway. You’ve likely heard a whole spectrum of politicized responses to the following: Is Obamacare socialized medicine? What IS socialized medicine? Is it going to break the budget or is it going to save money? Is it going to make sure everyone has health insurance? Should Americans have a right TO health insurance or a right to NOT have health insurance?
What do you think? Need more info? If so I’d suggest watching this cartoon from the Kaiser Family Foundation to get a sense for the main aspects of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). If that isn’t enough for you, check out this helpful timeline.
Various administrations, public servants, health care advocates and LOTS of citizens have been working for decades (!) to reform the US health care system. Passing the Affordable Care Act was a significant, historic achievement. It is now being implemented at the state level, and how it is implemented is really what is going to determine its success. That success will affect the improvement of the US health care system, as well as the re-electability of certain politicians. Hopefully it will make sure that “sick while self-employed” is no longer a recipe for bankruptcy and that no person in need of medical care is can be labeled “uninsurable.”
OK – so there are many good reasons to familiarize yourself with the health care system and health care reform. However, good intentions don’t magically teach the meaning of terms like “medical loss ratio” and “pre-existing condition” and “HMO.” Never fear! More posts on US health care reform are coming soon. Stay tuned.
Rachel Kelley studies Human Biology with a concentration in community health policy. She spent last spring working for a health care advocacy organization in Tennessee, where she met many people who need the health care system to change.