A Quick Look at the Affordable Care Act: “Obamacare”

Currently, the supreme court is reviewing The Affordable Care Act “Obamacare” at a very close scope, specifically the constitutionality of one of the very controversial aspects, the individual mandate.

The individual mandate would, as the name implies – mandate all citizens to buy health insurance. This would work in the same way as car insurance does; it is required and must be purchased by all who drive a car. Some people believe that mandating health insurance goes against the constitution and American principles. I wonder if these people are also against the mandate of car insurance.

An important fact

One of the reasons why it is so expensive is that not everyone is insured. This forces insurance premiums and reimbursements up because most sick and elderly people have health insurance. While it is never wise to not purchase health insurance, it does benefit those who do not get into an accident, develop a chronic disease, and by chance go through many years unharmed. On average the United States is arguably not providing the best health care in the world, however it is certainly the most expensive.

Some may argue that the cost is due to America having the best health care system in the world, yet the USA ranks 34th in infant mortality rate out of the near 200 countries that exist in the world. The average life expectancy has not increased in a decade and does not even rank within the top 5, despite our innovative, scientific approach to health care. Another reason why health care is so expensive here is because lawyers dictate policy. Doctors use excessive and often unnecessary tests, scans, and procedures because they need to steer clear of the malpractice lawsuits that America has become infamous for.

Health Care Cost by Country

Total Health Expenditure per Capita, U.S. and Selected Countries, 2008

Source: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (2010), “OECD Health Data”


The Bottom Line
If the individual mandate gets struck down, it would have an overall very negative impact on the necessary health care reform. The more people that buy health insurance, the cheaper it becomes for everyone. Making health insurance more affordable by making it mandatory should be an essential part of health care reform. Personally, I am comfortable with people critiquing the Affordable Care Act, but I do not agree with striking down the individual mandate. Without the individual mandate, health care reform will fall short and lose its air like a balloon – or shrink like a snowman in April.


2 thoughts on “A Quick Look at the Affordable Care Act: “Obamacare”

  1. Daniel

    Being a doctor in Germany for more than 20 years I strongly agree with this article. Despite many problems that Germany faces through an aging population and rising costs we still manage to deliver excellent care to everybody. A mandatory health insurance for individuals is a crucial prerequisite to keep a system stable and affordable.

  2. Eve

    Great article, and I completely agree with your assessment. To us who have lived in countries with universal health care, this American hesitation seems very strange. I grew up in Europe and still have many friends living there, and I have not seen evidence that they are receiving lesser care from having universal coverage. Most people there are extremely satisfied with the services they receive and the timeframe in which they receive them. Furthermore, they are shocked to hear stories from America that some people would be refused medicine or surgery because they could not afford it, or that people seeking medical care in general would have to be worried about affording such care in addition to suffering from a medical problem. They wonder whether this added stress doesn’t impact the patients’ recovery rates.

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