BY: SAMANTHA LUM
Currently, the U.S. spends the most amount of money on health care compared to any other country in the world. The U.S. spent approximately $8,508 per person for health care services in 2013, according to the Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey. Norway and Switzerland, the next highest-spending countries, spent over $5,600.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, also known as Obamacare, passed in order to reduce health care spending and to increase quality of care. The ACA mandates all U.S. citizens to purchase health care insurance. It is mainly funded through cuts in government spending, such as Medicare and new revenue from expanded insurance, as outlined in a report by the Congressional Budget Office in 2012.
In 2010, a new Patient’s Bill of Rights was created to increase access to care. People can no longer be denied coverage based on pre-existing health conditions. By having the entire population covered, costs will be reduced significantly as quality increases.
Although we are spending more than other countries, our health outcomes are less than desirable. The ACA does not solve our problem pertaining to accessing care.
Erlyana Erlyana, professor and undergraduate advisor for the Department of Health care Administration, said the ACA has “a good intention but is poorly executed.”
According to Erlyana, attaining coverage does not necessarily mean achieving access to care.
“It’s more like a bandage than a solution,” Erlyana said. “The ACA helps you get ‘affordable’ insurance coverage, not access to health care services.”
Since more people are covered, they may be able to see their physician regularly instead of getting sicker and using up emergency room services. So costs would be saved through the ER, for instance. Yes, we’re trying to reduce costs in the long run, but the ACA doesn’t necessarily mean we’re increasing quality. We hope that quality will increase, but it’s hard to say with the increased demand of serving more people.
But each student is affected differently by Obamacare. The deadline to purchase coverage was March 31, but young adults may stay on their parents’ insurance plan until they turn 26 years old.
Naveen Manimaran, treasurer of the Health Care Administration Student Forum (HCASF), is still under his parents’ insurance.
“Even though I am not directly impacted by Obamacare, I believe this program is a revolutionary change for U.S. health care,” Manimaran said. “Obamacare will help protect many Americans from financial burdens with their health care. This program will improve the overall health of this nation.”
For Erika King, a senior health care administration major, there is hope for the future; however, she is slightly skeptical of how efficient insurance providers are working to cover everyone.
“Overall, Obamacare is beneficial but it’s going to take a lot of time to work because of the large amount of people it’s covering,” King said. “It’s going to be a slow process.”
The March 31 penalty did not apply to King because she is covered by Cal State Long Beach’s insurance. That means she will need to apply for health care after graduation, which is when her current coverage will end.
On the other hand, others are not as optimistic about the ACA.
“Our economy is not even solid and steady to start a health care act,” said Carla Quevedo, a senior health care administration major. “We still have a high percentage of unemployed individuals that need help. I believe the U.S. is not ready for a sudden move like Obamacare.”
Quevedo’s premium—insured by her employer—increased because of the new healthcare mandate.
“I was trying to help my family members to choose an affordable plan that will be beneficial,” Quevedo said. “It was so hard, because the monthly payments are extremely high and coverage is very minimal.”
Whether you are covered under your parents’ insurance or you have purchased your own, you must take time to analyze your options.
If you missed the deadline, you can still get coverage by purchasing a private health plan or by applying for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). You can also visit coveredca.com or calstate.edu/coveredca for more information.