Health policies are the aggregates of principles, both stated or unstated, that that help in distribution of services, resources and political influences that determine the health of a nation and its impact. Health policies are formulated by the legislative, judicial or executive arms of the government. They then and undergo several stages of checks before enactment into the law. In the United States, the health policies are meant to serve the people’s interest while safeguarding them and protecting the value of life (Shi and Singh, 2011). This should be achieved with minimal influence from the political divide. The Affordable Care Act of the Obama Administration has drawn mixed views and reviews as concerns its stand on American People’s health and affordability.
President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act in the year 2010. It is one of the most significant overhauls in terms of regulations in the Health Care System of the United States since the Medicaid and Medicare of the 1965. Its main objective is to reduce the number of uninsured people and decrease the overall costs levied on health care for all the Americans. It is meant to increase the quality of health care administered to the people while increasing the private and public coverage of insurance. With the enactment of the policy, tremendous rise in number of individuals who have enrolled for the coverage has been witnessed.
Critical discussions as concerns the act have been brought forward, especially with questions on its supposed affordability levels to the common citizens. Ritger (2013) argues that Republicans in particular have blamed the President on his signature of the imitative for its increase on the costs of insurance. It is said that the majority of the Americans will experience higher premiums at the individual exchange rather than what they pay at the current levels. This affects the benefits of employer-sponsored basis. Employers are said to agree on the changes that offer coverage to the employees, which will not be realized. This will require grossing up of their wages in order for the employees to get their insurance. This will ultimately increase the costs.
Implementing of the Affordable Care Act provides both challenges and promise especially with the expanding insurance coverage of health. On the positive turn, results from Urban Health reform Monitoring Survey indicated, that there was a decline in the number of non-elderly individuals who were not insured. These numbers belong to those who had previously not enrolled for the coverage. On the other hand, Hempstead (2014) supports the fact that a counterpoint is observed to the positive aspect mentioned above. There is a growing gap in the full implementation estimates and eligible population’s estimated size. It is said that even with the increasing numbers of enrolled individuals, by the year 2016; it would still have a huge chunk of those not enrolled for the coverage.
According to the legislation of the act, accountable care organizations facilitates some groups of doctors or hospitals to provide medical care for certain groups of patients and get remuneration. This is determinant of how they treat the patients, get them to better health status while lowering the costs incurred in the process. If the doctors in this regard manage to reduce the care costs outlays by certain figures or amounts, they are eligible to keep a part of the savings from the proceeds (Radnofsky, 2014). The hospitals or group of doctors has to undergo several quality checks in their provisions while the patients also play a part in the satisfactory claims. These include patient readmissions and the satisfaction levels.
Looking at the expected impact in a state like California, the Affordable Care Act serves to encourage high enrollment into the coverage. Long and Gruber (2014) predict that by the year 2016 an additional 3.4 million Americans shall be insured in the State. This simply translates into a 96% in documentation of insured residents. This is a significant achievement, considering the quality of services expected to be utilized by the residents. The charges will also be affordable. The households of low-income earners will have significant benefits financially. This cannot be said of the same to the high-income families. They will be required to pay more for the coverage of the policy.
The health insurance coverage reforms of the act are centered on the subsidies and premiums of cost-sharing basis. The target is the legal residents and citizens of the United States with incomes of families that are less than a hundred and thirty three percent of the federal poverty level. This is measured through a modified and adjusted test of the gross income. This is then subsequently streamlined into the enrollment process. The five-year period of waiting will also apply for Medicaid. During the period, the individuals will qualify for subsidies on tax. Moreover, they shall be enrolled into the health insurance exchanges.
Provisions contained in the act are targeted at adults of between the ages of 19 to 64 (Park, 2011). This is because these individuals recorded a major deterioration in access to health services and health care during the period of between the years 2000 and 2010. The provisions will also seek to deny the insurance companies the luxury of dropping their clients after they fall sick. A critical look at one of the major benefits is the assurance of quality in the services and care provided. This has helped in fighting the outcomes of death rates in adults. It is notable that a 6% drop was recorded in the adult death rates in three major states in the country.
Challenges to the Affordable Care Act have significant effect to the healthcare sector and this ultimately transfers to the American people. In 2012, United States Supreme Court upheld the president’s healthcare law. According to Goller and Dunham (2012), the court preserved the mandate of an individual that required majority of the Americans to get health insurance by the year 2014 or else pay tax for the above. Opponents of the ruling stated that this was an overreach into private lives of the citizens and their preference by the federal government. This however was upheld since it gives the importance of better and affordable healthcare to majority of the American people, as they deserve it.
Nursing programs under the Affordable Care Act are further strengthened and reauthorized according to the funding done by health Resources and Service Administration. Issues such as shortage of faculty shortages and factors of doctoral-level have long blighted schools of nursing. Merkle (2012) notes that with the enactment of the act, the cap on Nurse Anesthetic Traineeship and Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship programs is lifted and removes the 10% funding that they obtained. Several loan programs fro nursing are also realized through the act, which translates to improved quality in training and acquisition of the knowledge, by increased number of nurses. This sees a translation in the qualification of nurses, thereby increasing the quality of healthcare services that the American people will achieve.
Access and services of the Health care in the United States has undergone significant changes with the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. Rosenbaum (2011) argues that the country faces full implementation of the act, which is accompanied with implications in the legislations as regards to those individuals who carry out the health care practice and subsequent research. It is imperative that all citizens understand that the preventive services, quality, innovations and efficiencies of the health care are all catered for in the act. This legislation caters for geriatric patients and nurses in their provision of services. Individuals are also expected to obtain health insurance at prescribed level according to the taxes on income they receive. This will ensure that individuals who receive low incomes are also catered for.
Health policies are laws enacted aimed at catering for the quality and affordability of health care and services for a nation. They contain legislature that safeguards the interest of the people, the stakeholders and federal government. Implications and consequences to any contravening of the same are contained in the act. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 is positive health policy as it seeks to ensure affordability of the health care and services, while reducing its costs, improving the quality and enrolling of all American citizens. The policy should be embraced and strengthened with its universal application as it covers the interests of the people.
Goller, Howard., & Dunham, Will., (2012) Wrap-up 4 US Top Court Upholds Healthcare Law In Obama Triumph. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/19/birth.control.iom/index.html
Hempstead. Katherine., (2014). Coverage Expansion in the States: Challenge and Opportunity. RWF. Retrieved from http://www.rwjf.org/en/about-rwjf/newsroom/newsroom-content/2014/04/coverage-expansion-in-the-states–challenge-and-opportunity.html
Long, Peter., & Gruber, Jonathan., (2014). Projecting the Impact of the Affordable Care Act on California. Retrieved from http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/30/1/63.abstract
Merkle, J. S., (2012). Ethics: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Ethical Perspectives in 21st Century Health Care. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. Vol. 18. No. 1.
Park. Madison., (2011). Birth Control Should Be Fully Covered Under Health Plans, Report says. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/19/birth.control.iom/index.html
Radanofsky. Louise, (2014). How The ACA May Affect Health Costs. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304632204579338352428878072
Ritger, C., (2013). Obama’s Affordable Care Act Looking a Bit Unaffordable. Independent National Journal. Retrieved from http://www.nationaljournal.com/domesticpolicy/obama-s-affordable-care-act-looking-a-bit-unaffordable-20130829
Rosenbaum, S., (2011). The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Implications for Public Health Policy and Prcatice. Issue No. 126. pp. 130-135.
Shi, L., & Singh, D. A. (2011). Delivering health care in America: A systems approach. Boston: Jones and Bartlett.
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