Health Care Policy

For the past several years, health care has been a very divisive issue in American politics, but also one rife with misinformation.  The Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare" is disliked by a healthy portion of the citizenry, but also misunderstood by many Americans.  We clearly need the facts if we want to have an honest debate about what the best course of action would be.

The truly liberal position on health care is the idea of "single payer", wherein the government provides health coverage directly, and there are no insurance companies involved.  Liberals argue that this is much more cost effective, efficient, and fair, because everyone gets basic health care, regardless of income.

Conservatives would prefer a fully privatized system in which companies compete to provide health insurance and individuals purchase that insurance on the open market without bearing the burden for each other's health care needs.

The Affordable Care Act falls somewhere in the middle of these two.  It preserves private insurance and does not create anything like a federal government takeover of health care.  It does require that everyone get health insurance or pay a fine and it imposes some rules on health care providers and insurers, like requiring that insurance companies accept people with pre-existing conditions, and it provides financial incentives to states to include more people in their medicaid programs (people with slightly higher incomes that current rules allow).  It calls for the creation of state-level insurance exchanges that in theory offer citizens better and cheaper options for buying health insurance.  See the links below for more information about what the law does and does not do.  There is certainly legitimate opposition to the law, which is reasonable and principled.  The problem comes when false ideas about the law (or any law) are pushed.  We need an honest debate. 

Read up on the facts below:

  • The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office's Assessment of the Health Care law's fiscal impact.  Bottom line: it's projected to reduce the deficit.
  • For Californians, the exchange is called Covered California, which is where you need to sign up if you don't have insurance (this is mandated).
  • A Q and A about how it will affect you at the NYT.
  • The latest news on Health Care, including the ACA, from Capital Public Radio (NPR)
  • A quick guide summarizing how the ACA could affect you and what is mandated.
  • A collection of articles and background on the law and the Supreme Court decision.
  • The official government site describing what the law does is factually accurate, but has a tone supportive of the law.
  • This summary from the White House outlines the different aspects of the ACA including: health care insurance regulations, increasing access to affordable care, strengthening Medicare and investment in public health.
  • Visit the Covered California resources page to discover which health programs you qualify for and to get more information on how California is participating in ACA.
  • This graphic by the American Tax & Financial Center provides a brief timeline of the ACA implementation and information on tax changes and penalties.
  • Check this flow chart if you are an employer wondering how the ACA will affect you or want to know how your employer will be affected.
  • Wikipedia actually has a fairly comprehensive overview.
  • Some of the best Public Opinion research on who knows about the law and whether they approve from the Kaiser Foundation.

This Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation is a good place to start for understanding the Affordable Care Act health care reforms via a website here, providing a general overview of current problems, reforms, and what it means for the future.  This video is very helpful: