The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: A Snapshot of Pros and Cons
There’s no doubt that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) will have broad, long-term ramifications for Americans. The Act, designed to lower healthcare costs and increase access to healthcare, offers advantages and disadvantages.
Here are some of the key potential “pros” and “cons” for you to consider.
Increased coverage.Thirty-two million Americans who would not have been covered by health insurance either now have coverage or will get the coverage they need starting in 2014. This includes:
- 3.1 million Americans ages 19 through 25 who may be added to their parents’ plans. Many of these youth are working but still cannot afford to pay for health benefits.
- Patients with pre-existing conditions who will no longer be able to be denied coverage by insurance companies. Plus, insurance companies will no longer be able to drop plan members once they get sick.
- In general, people who can't afford health insurance. The Federal government will pay states to add this group to the state’s Medicaid program.
Reduced healthcare costs. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the cost of healthcare could be reduced. Since the Act makes sure 95 percent of citizens have health insurance, preventative healthcare will be more accessible. The newly insured will no longer have to wait until their ailments become so extreme that they are forced to visit the hospital emergency room, a more costly care avenue.
Reduced budget gaps. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the PPACA will reduce the national budget deficit by $143 billion by 2019 because of the Act’s associated taxes and fees. In addition, the CBO believes that the Medicare "donut hole" gap in coverage will be eliminated by 2020.
Higher taxes, lower deductions. Americans who don't pay for insurance and don't qualify for Medicaid will be assessed a tax of $95 (or 1 percent of income, whichever is higher) in 2014. The tax will increase substantially to $325 (or 2 percent of income) in 2015, and $695 (or 2.5 percent of income) in 2016. Individuals with annual incomes above $200,000 and couples with incomes above $250,000 will pay higher taxes to help cover costs of the program. And, in 2014, families can only deduct medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of income, rather than today’s 7.5 percent of income. For details, see: What Obamacare Means for Taxes.
Shortage of healthcare professionals. A new study by the National Monitor predicts that the implementation of the PPACA, coupled with the nation’s aging population, could lead to a shortage of 52,000 primary care physicians by 2025. This could leave millions of Americans without access to healthcare. The study also noted that office visits to primary care physicians will likely increase from 462 million to 565 million by 2025, further straining the system.
Higher drug costs. Pharmaceutical companies will pay an extra $84.8 billion in fees over the next ten years to pay for closing the "donut hole" in Medicare. This could raise drug costs if they pass these fees on to consumers.
To learn more about the Affordable Care Act and its potential impact, we encourage you to visit Healthcare.gov to examine additional facts and review the government’s roll out timeline extending through 2014.
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