26 March 2014
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Is It What America Needs?
The US healthcare system is currently undergoing what is arguably its biggest change since its enactment in 1935 with the Social Security Act. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010 by President Barack Obama in an attempt to bring cost free preventative care to all American citizens. And while this may sound like good news since it will help take care of the 54 million Americans that were uninsured in 2010 when this Act was signed (Kocher 2010) not all of these changes to the healthcare system are beneficial. Many citizens will find themselves penalized by the fees and requirements of the ACA, along with many others that will find themselves the victims of budget cuts and layoffs. Although healthcare reform is something that the US needs currently, the implications that will result from the Affordable Care Act will not benefit the country in the long run.
Before understanding why the ACA is not in the current best interest for the country, it should be explained why healthcare reform is even necessary at all in this point in time. The main reason is due to the massive amount of waste that occurs either through fraud or improper payments. The National Healthcare Anti-Fraud Agency estimates that roughly $60 billion are lost to healthcare fraud every year, which amounts to 3% of total annual health care spending for the nation. This number however is considered very conservative by many experts seeing as over $72 billion are lost through improper payments, with 50% of this money being reimbursements to providers, medical suppliers, and other Medicare vendors (Cohen 2008). In an attempt to combat the amount of money being lost due to fraud and waste, in 2008 the federal government allocated $1.13 billion for program integrity activities and enforcement of laws against health care fraud. Though it may seem like a lot, the entire amount of the Medicare budget going towards anti-fraud measures only amounts to less than 1/5 of 1% (Orszag 2010). In 2010, the Healthcare administration requested an additional $311 million over 2 years to be used to combat healthcare fraud (Orszag 2010). This additional funding, however, may not be enough to even put a dent into the current amount of money lost to fraud everywhere due to the ease in replicating schemes and the relatively low risk of detection. All the money that is currently being lost to fraud is actually affecting our country’s GDP which further pushes the argument that the current healthcare system as a whole must be reformed.
The goal of the PPACA is “to give more Americans access to affordable, quality health insurance, and to reduce the growth in health care spending in the U.S.” (Kocher 2010). The term “affordable” however has a very broad definition as we will encounter later in the explanation of this Act. The PPACA...