Obamacare provides benefits, challenges among those wanting it


President Barack Obama had one major goal during his 2012 re-election campaign — reforming healthcare. While many Americans once saw hope in the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” a sour taste has spread from the opposing camps to the population at large.

As a bill it survived more than 40 votes to repeal, filibusters and multiple Supreme Court hearings. After going through so much just to see the light of day, one would hope the law would have gone into effect without a hitch. Sadly, it has been just the opposite.

While the Affordable Care Act went from a bill sitting on Capitol Hill to law back in March 2010, enrollment for the program opened on Oct. 1. While thousands flooded to sign up for the new health care plan, a dam of technical errors and headaches ensued, leaving the smoking guns of those opposed shooting rounds of celebration. Now faced with countless people saying “told ya so,” the nation must decide if the law is worth its weight in gold.

“I think it has the potential to do great things,” James Ryan Roberts, senior in theatre and electronic journalism, said. “There will be hiccups with any new program, so I wouldn’t jump to any quick judgments. I agree with the key aspects. No caps on coverage and coverage for preexisting conditions.”

The wide blanket of coverage is one of the most gleaming pieces in the Affordable Care Act armor. As described on healthcare.gov, the law will provide benefits available in all states, offering the lowest plans available for its applicants. All essential health care benefits, like doctor visits, hospitalizations and prescriptions will be covered. The law will be critical for college students too, as parents will be able keep their dependents on their health plan until the age of 26.

“I know people have issues with the individual mandate, but I don’t see any difference between that and having car insurance,” Roberts said. “Eventually you will get sick and need that insurance. Bills will pile up that you can’t or won’t pay, and somebody is going to have to foot that bill. Overall, it’s the responsible thing to do.”

A major point of opposition for the Affordable Care Act is the penalty of all those without a health care plan. By March 2014, everyone without health care, be it “Obamacare” or a preexisting plan, will be fined $95 or one percent of their income during tax return season. The higher amount between the two will be paid. By 2016, the penalty will increase to $695 or 23.5 percent of income, plus $47.50 per uninsured dependent.

“Taking our tax returns will leave our family homeless and starving,” Phillip Kitts, sophomore in journalism and mass communication, said. “They have forgotten about the broke farmer, working 18 hour days and paying for substandard insurance. Now, we will slowly eliminate those insurance companies that may not have the best coverage, but is enough to cover the hardworking man. Now, they will fade away and the heart of America will suffer.”

IRS.gov details Affordable Care Act tax implications as they apply to individuals, companies and other organizations.

“Obamacare, in my opinion, is much like what many politicians do,” Kitts said. “[They] go way out of their way to attempt to leave a mark on the nation.”

The question is whether that mark is benevolent or malevolent.

What’s terrifying is that many students are unaware of the benefits and disadvantages of “Obamacare,” totally oblivious to the changes happening in the world. In order to know if their hospital bills will leave them in a cardboard box outside of their parents’ home, people – students specifically – need to be knowledgable in what is covered and what is available to them.