Despite the worst roll-out conceivable, the
Affordable Care Act seems to be working. With less than two weeks
remaining before the March 31 deadline for coverage this year, five million people have already signed up. After decades of rising percentages of Americans’ lacking health insurance, the uninsured rate has dropped to its lowest levels since 2008.
Meanwhile, the rise in health care costs has slowed drastically. No
one knows exactly why, but the new law may well be contributing to this
slowdown by reducing Medicare overpayments to medical providers and
private insurers, and creating incentives for hospitals and doctors to
improve quality of care.
But a lot about the Affordable Care Act needs fixing — especially the
widespread misinformation that continues to surround it. For example, a
majority of business owners with fewer than 50 workers still think
they’re required to offer insurance or pay a penalty. In fact, the law
applies only to businesses with 50 or more employees who work more than
30 hours a week. And many companies with fewer than 25 workers still
don’t realize that if they offer plans they can qualify for subsidies in
the form of tax credits.
Many individuals remain confused and frightened. Forty-one percent
of Americans who are still uninsured say they plan to remain that way.
They believe it will be cheaper to pay a penalty than buy insurance.
Many of these people are unaware of the subsidies available to them.
Sign-ups have been particularly disappointing among Hispanics.
Some of this confusion has been deliberately sown by outside groups
that, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision,
have been free to spend large amounts of money to undermine the law. For
example, Gov. Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, told Fox News that
the Affordable Care Act was “the biggest job killer ever,” citing a Florida company with 20 employees that expected to go out of business because it couldn’t afford coverage.
None of this is beyond repair, though. As more Americans sign up and see the benefits, others will take note and do the same.
The biggest problem on the horizon that may be beyond repair —
because it reflects a core feature of the law — is the public’s
understandable reluctance to be forced to buy insurance from private,
for-profit insurers that aren’t under enough competitive pressure to
keep premiums low.
But even here, remedies could evolve. States might use their
state-run exchanges to funnel so many applicants to a single, low-cost
insurer that the insurer becomes, in effect, a single payer. Vermont is
already moving in this direction. In this way, the Affordable Care Act
could become a back door to a single-payer system — every conservative’s
Stacy Burke is a semi-well-known Fetish Model, Actress, Web-Mistress, Wrestler, Stunt Woman, Ex- Hugh Hefner Girlfriend, Promoter & Merchandise Designer. She LOVES home brewed Beer and Music, Especially Surf Punk!!