10 Reasons Most People Like Obamacare Once They Know What's Really In It
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Forbes' Rick Ungar called it, “the true ‘bomb’ contained in Obamacare and the one item that will have more impact on the future of how medical care is paid for in this country than anything we’ve seen in quite some time.”
4. Much Ado About the Mandate
With the Supreme Court's ruling last week, the mandate is gone, but the penalty for not carrying insurance remains. If there's one thing Democrats, Republicans and independents agree on, it's that they don't like it.
And they shouldn't. But most people probably don't know just how modest the impact of the mandate really is. According to the Congressional Budget Office, just 1 percent of the population will pay the penalty, which maxes out at 1 percent of one's income.
A lot of conservatives are convinced that jack-booted gummint thugs will round them up and stick them in FEMA camps if they don't pay up. But as Timothy Noah points out, “the health reform law explicitly states (on Page 336): 'In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.'" They can only dock future tax refunds.
5. And Nobody Ever Talks About the Employer Mandate
Starting in 2014, companies with 50 or more full-time workers (two part-timers count as one full-timer for this purpose) will have to pay penalties if they don't cover their employees' health insurance. (This provision is a bit complicated -- all the details are here.)
6. Shaves the Deficit
Mitt Romnney says that “Obamacare adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt, and pushes those obligations onto coming generations.”
That message appears to be sinking in. According to Kaiser, a majority of Americans – and a third of Democrats – think the healthcare law will increase the deficit. But according to the Congressional Budget Office, the law will reduce the projected deficit by $210 billion over the next decade.
7. Chicks Will Dig This
Many people are aware of the regulation requiring insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions. It's one of the most popular parts of the whole. But fewer know that, beginning in 2014, insurers won't be able to charge women higher premiums than men.
Also coming in 2014: a ban on insurers placing annual limits on healthcare (lifetime coverage limits were already banned in 2010).
The Kaiser poll found that few people were aware of another popular new insurance regulation: since 2010, insurance companies can no longer charge co-pays or hold you to a deductible for preventive health services.
8. New Dollars for Community Health Centers
Kaiser didn't ask for people's opinions on this one, but it may be one of those under-the-radar provisions that actually ends up helping a lot of people.
Community health centers (CHCs) now serve the primary care needs of about 20 million Americans, and they have a proven track record. But the system is strained and underfunded.
The expansion of Medicaid will help alleviate some of the pressure, and the healthcare law also allocates $11 billion over a five-year period to build new CHCs and upgrade existing infrastructure. Most of the dollars will end up in poorer communities.
A lot of underserved people live in rural America, and the law also provides money to train and place 16,000 primary caregivers in rural communities over a five-year period.
9. Essential Benefits
Starting in 2014, in order for insurers to sell coverage through state-based exchanges – a place where a lot of the newly insured will likely end up – they will be required to cover a package of “essential benefits,” including maternity care, mental healthcare and substance abuse treatment, pediatric care, ambulance rides and hospitalization.