What’s going on with healthcare in the United States?


Do you rely on the Affordable Care Act to protect you and your family’s health? If the Justice Department has its way, your coverage could soon disappear.

The Affordable Care Act — sometimes referred to as Obamacare — changed United States health care drastically. It expanded programs like Medicaid, which allowed millions who couldn’t otherwise afford health care more affordable access to it. The law also lowered costs for certain age groups, and vowed to protect people with certain health conditions that previously denied them insurance coverage by default.

It has been the goal of the Trump administration since day 1 to reform these laws, believing some should be kept while others should be erased forever. That gave a lot of people hope — maybe all the bad parts of the ACA could go away, while all the good parts could stay the same.

It’s only March, but a lot has already happened on the U.S. healthcare front this year. The most recent upset could mean millions of Americans in need of health insurance are in serious danger of losing it.

The Trump Administration now wants the Affordable Care Act completely wiped out, going back on all its promises that new laws would continue to shield Americans who needed the most protection.

A federal judge in Texas has declared the current law unconstitutional, and there’s now a lawsuit demanding all laws under the Affordable Care Act should be eliminated. The administration has not disagreed with this judgment.

U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor claims the ACA should be invalidated because it requires people to either pay for their insurance plans or pay a penalty for not having one. While the Justice Department previously stated that some parts of the law could remain — preserving coverage for millions of people — it has basically retracted that claim. The Department now says it will defend O’Connor’s position.

Why do so many people want Obamacare gone? It turns out the “individual mandate” — requiring all people to pay for coverage — isn’t the only reason so many are against it.

For one thing, people in poorer overall health fare better under the ACA than healthy people. It’s not uncommon for a healthy person to pay high premiums and other costs for coverage they don’t end up using, because they don’t need to — they’re in good health.

And for another, it’s complicated. I spent two years studying Obamacare in grad school, and I still graduated half confused. If you don’t take the time to understand its parts, generalizations and assumptions can result in opposition for no good reason.

Many political discussions related to healthcare focus primarily on its cost (and the fact that Obama signed it into law). Cost is an important factor — it’s frustrating having to pay for coverage you might not even use. But what about those who do need to use it?

It’s important to consider who these laws are actually helping. Spoiler alert: It’s a lot of people. Healthcare affects actual Americans of all backgrounds. The elderly. The poor. Children. Families. Cancer patients. I could go on.

The Affordable Care Act is too big to break down in its entirety here. However, there are a few highlights that prove just how many people of all walks of life would be affected by a reversal of the ACA.

Under current health care parameters:

  • People under the age of 26 can remain on their parents’ insurance plans
  • Senior citizens save on Medicare costs, including lower prescription medication costs
  • Many women qualify for free contraception (often used to treat hormone-related health conditions) and other medical tests
  • Individuals with pre-existing conditions (such as cancer) cannot be denied health insurance due to their illnesses.

The Affordable Care Act has also changed the way mental health and substance use disorders are covered, making often unaffordable care more accessible to people living with these conditions who often want help but can’t pay for it.

The Trump administration wants the whole thing overturned, and it’s unclear exactly what this means quite yet. But it’s pretty safe to assume everyone mentioned in the bullet points above — and many more not addressed directly here — will be hit with the consequences the hardest.

However, that hasn’t stopped the Democrats in Congress from continuing to bring up the issue. Earlier today, led by Nancy Pelosi, they introduced a set of proposals in one bill to improve what’s left of the ACA.

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Culturess will keep you updated as developments occur.