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Healthcare Reform: Money or Lives

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    In the last few years health care reform changed drastically from its cost and its . Through the Obama administration there was a reform that created a change in health care. This reform was created to require both everyone to have a insurance and also to be able to afford it. Obamacare created a system to have affordable healthcare where based on an individual’s income is accounted to how much an individual or that family will spent on healthcare. Although

    Critics and even some supporters of the Affordable Healthcare Act, also known as Obamacare, have been questioning whether the law is making people healthier. The purposes of the law are to reduce spending for health care, improve the quality of health care, and make sure the healthcare industry is regulated. But the primary issue has revolved around whether or not the law would improve health for individuals. A publication of a new study found that reforms similar to Obamacare that were passed in Massachusetts probably saved lives. As a result, some of the critics are admitting they may have been too harsh in their judgment. “The Massachusetts study offers the most compelling evidence to date that increasing health insurance coverage translates into fewer deaths,” Philip Klein wrote in the Washington Examiner (Cohn).

    So, now that this debate about effectiveness is being answered, a new one is taking hold: is the cost too high? Supporters and opponents of Obamacare are divided. While some believe the cost of Obamacare is too high, others argue that the cost is not as high as many believe, and that reliable health insurance is worth the cost. This debate, then, really focuses on priorities: should we be focusing on saving money, or should be making sure everyone has health insurance?

    Opponents of Obamacare focus their argument around the high cost of the program. According to these individuals, the cost of the program is too high for the government and too high for individuals. Recently, Michael Cannon, from the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C. policy think tank, did some calculations to show that every life that Obamacare saves costs between $4 and $5 million—a number, he says, that’s higher than the World Health Organization’s standard for cost-effectiveness (Cannon). Critics point to this number as being much too high. “As an economist might put it, this means there are likely to be policies out there that could save a lot more lives than RomneyCare does per dollar spent,” Cannon wrote in a Forbes article.

    Despite admitting that the law is saving lives, these critics are asserting that the money spent per life is not reasonable; it could be better spent elsewhere and perhaps save even more lives. The fact that the costs are going up since 2015 which help their argument. The silver and bronze plans that Obamacare offered were the most popular because they had lower monthly premiums. However, they have expensive annual deductibles (Ehley), therefore making healthcare more expensive for some individuals. A study by the Internal Revenue Service found that “the average deductible for 2015 Bronze-level policies, the lowest tiered plan, is about $5,181 for individuals— up from $5,081 last year” (Ehley). Although the hundred dollar increase may not seem to be a drastic change in price, it will certainly add up, and the numbers could keep rising. Many would say that the bill has a steady increase in costs, and they insist it isn’t worth the benefits that the bill has provided. Given that Obamacare promotes itself as an affordable option, it’s worth noting that its strongest critics do not see it as cost-effective.

    People in favor of Obamacare say that those who focus on the high price of Obamacare fail to understand the cost of Obamacare or similar programs. In order for Obamacare to be effective, they argue, it comes with a price. Lois Hightower, Georgetown Professor of Economics said that “They are overestimating its cost on purpose, to further their own ideas” (Cohn). She continued, “Even if the cost per saved life under Obamacare were truly $4 or $5 million, that would hardly be out of line with other government programs and regulations that enjoy broad support here in the U.S.” (Cohn).

    Supporters of Obamacare emphasize that the cost of this program is not that high relative to other programs, and that those who reject the program as being too expensive ignore the relative cost of this program to other programs that are widely considered to be worth the price. As Harold Pollack, a University of Chicago professor, has pointed out, “automobile child restraints and child-resistant cigarette lighters were also estimated to cost several million dollars per life saved.” These proponents of Obamacare think that critics are not fairly presenting the cost of Obamacare to the public. They believe we need to look at the cost of Obamacare in relation to other government funded programs and see that not only is Obamacare saving lives, relatively, it isn’t costing very much. In their view, there is historical precedent for government spending money to save lives.

    Proponents of Obamacare offer another reason that the cost of the program is worth it: even though it seems like individuals will be spending a lot of money on healthcare, Obamacare can actually prevent people from financial ruin. According to Joel Griffin, manager of Health Solutions Strategies, a healthcare consultancy in New York City, the main benefit of Obamacare is that it ensures financial security by protecting people from crippling and frequently unpredictable medical bills. When people do not have medical insurance, if something terrible happens, they can end up spending their life savings paying for health insurance for themselves or their families.

    Supporters of Obamacare praise the program because it helps people avoid this kind of financial ruin, making it well worth the cost of the program. ‘Remember,’ says David Cutler, the Harvard economist and author of Your Money or Your Life, ‘the primary benefit of insurance is smoothing money flows, not extending life. That is, it’s peace of mind and the ability to avoid desperation’ (Cohn). Other financial benefits of health care reform include more freedom to change jobs and start businesses, since people with pre-existing conditions are no longer dependent upon employers for insurance (Cohn). Proponents of Obamacare emphasize the importance of having health insurance – and argue that we should prioritize making this kind of healthcare available to everyone. These supporters are not trying to argue about the cost of Obamacare; instead, they are arguing that some things, like financial security and peace of mind, are worth paying for.

    One thing is clear from all of the debate: an honest accounting of Obamacare has to consider all of the law’s costs. Opponents of Obamacare are attacking the plan from all angles, but one of their strongest claims is that the cost is too high – and it’s rising. If Obamacare intends to help make health care and insurance more affordable, opponents claim, it’s not doing a very good job. Supporters of Obamacare, though, argue that looking at the cost of Obamacare in isolation is unfair, and that we are comfortable paying similar costs for other programs. They also argue that while the price tag of Obamacare seems high, it is not nearly as high as medical bills that individuals without insurance will have to pay. This debate, then, is really about priorities. While some prioritize saving money, both for the government and the individual, others prioritize the security that comes with health insurance, no matter the cost.

    Works Cited

    1. Cannon, Michael F. ‘New Study Suggests RomneyCare Saved Lives, But At A Very High Cost.’ Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 5 May 2014. Web. 02 nov. 2018.
    2. Cohn, Jonathan. ‘Obamacare Critics Now Admit the Law Is Saving Lives, But Say the Price Still Isn’t Worth It.’ New Republic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2018.
    3. Ehley, Brianna. ‘Obamacare Deductibles, Already High, Climb in 2015.’ The Fiscal Times. N.p., 21 Nov. 2014. Web. 02 Nov. 2018.
    4. Pollack, Harold. “The Cost of Obamacare.” Daily Press. University of Chicago, 4 June 2014. Web. 02 Nov. 2018.
    5. ‘Study Finds Romneycare Saved Lives — Will Obamacare?” Washington Examiner. N.p., 7 May 2014. Web. 02 Dec. 2018.

    Healthcare Reform: Money or Lives. (2021, Aug 25). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/healthcare-reform-money-or-lives/

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