On March 23, 2010 President Obama signed into law his long fought for health care reform bill.For over a year, passionate debate raged in support and opposition of the bill but, as Obama claimed upon the bill”s signing, “all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform.”
But what exactly the “reality of reform” means for millions of Americans remains to be unseen.
Despite the bill’s far-reaching influence, sifting through the over 2000-page document is a chore most Americans are not likely to undertake.
Still, now that The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is now law, it is pertinent for the average American to understand how his life is being affected.
This is especially relevant for young Americans, such as college students, whose futures depend upon the pros and cons of the revolutionary health care overhaul.
According to www.whitehouse.gov, the plan promises health insurance to nearly 32 million Americans, raising the percentage of Americans with health care to nearly 95 percent.
The plan asserts rules and restrictions on insurance companies to keep premiums down as well as preventing the denial of care because of preexisting conditions. In connection, insurers are forbidden from placing limits on the amount of money one requires for coverage.
Also, the bill requires most American citizens to purchase health insurance, either through an employer or through “exchanges” which sell policies to individuals. After 2014 it will be mandatory for nearly all Americans to buy health insurance or risk a tax penalty.
President Obama maintains that all of this coverage, despite its estimated $950 billion cost, will actually help reduce the country’s deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades.
These are the plan’s overall goals but it bears repeating that the reality of these reforms won’t be seen for years to come.
In his health care signing speech Obama admits, “it will take four years to implement fully many of these reforms.” He stressed the need to implement them “responsibly.”
As for young adults, some reforms will be effective in the next six months.
One such reform is that young adults can now stay on their parents’ policies until the age of 26, which significantly extends the number of years children are able to remain dependent on their parents’ plans.
This allows graduating college students more time to find a suitable job considering the high unemployment that continues to plague the country’s economy.
Under the new health care bill, people will also receive government subsidies to help pay for prescription drugs, a gap in coverage commonly called the “doughnut hole.” To help fill this gap people will now receive a $250 rebate.
Of course, young adults are not exclusively beneficiaries of the new bill by being allowed to remain on their parents’ plan until an older age. Young adults play a key role in the government’s ability to help pay for health care overhaul in the first place.
According to Peter Grier of the The Christian Science Monitor by making health insurance mandatory, “it will help bring in a flood of new customers for health insurance firms, including healthy young people who might not need much health care.”
Young adults will essentially help balance the losses incurred by health insurance companies who are no longer able to deny coverage for preexisting conditions.
Of course if you already have a health care plan either through employment or paid for individually, Obama’s health reform will not affect your current plan.
As previously stated, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is over 2000 pages long and extremely complex. Boiling down the many processes and intricacies to simple generalizations fail to express how wide spread the bill actually is.
Despite its many promises, whether or not Obama’s health reform will actually benefit the millions of Americans dependent on health insurance is a question this country won’t be able to answer for years and even decades from now.
Keinan Fry is a fourth year student majoring in English. He can be reached at KF634551@wcupa.edu.