Health Care's effect on students
On Sunday, March 21, the United States House of Representatives made history: it passed health care reform by a majority vote of 219-212, accepting the Senate's health care bill with a bundle of 'fixes.'
That Tuesday, March 23, the Senate accepted the fixes, and President Barack Obama signed the bill into law.
"[The bill] will not fix everything that ails our health care system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction," Obama told Congress. "This is what change looks like."
According to CBS News, the bill will cost a total of $940 billion over a ten-year period, but will reduce the deficit by an estimated $143 billion during that time. Over the nest 10-year period, it will reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion, while simultaneously expanding coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured.
Professor Sandy Maisel said, "I think it is [as] good a bill as they could have passed. As the wealthiest nation [in the world], I think [the United States] has an obligation to find health care for everyone, and it is scandalous that we could not insure over 40 million people." Maisel is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Government and Director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement.
Under the new reform bill, the uninsured and self-employed can purchase insurance through state-based programs, with subsidies (available to individuals and families with income between 133-400 percent of poverty level). Similarly, individuals and families who make between 100-400 percent of the federal poverty level who want to purchase their own heath insurance on an exchange are eligible for subsidies, but not for Medicare, Medicaid or coverage by an employer.
Other than making health care more affordable, this bill will directly affect the lives of college students. One of the most notable provisions, as far as college students are concerned, allows young adults to stay on their guardian's health insurance plan until the age of 26. Thus, a graduate-level student may remain insured through higher levels of education and into their first jobs, even if their employer does not provide a health plan.
Professor Joseph Reisert, chair of the government department, said, "I was actually against the bill...people who make way more than the median income are going to be getting these subsidies, which is way too expensive for the [federal] government." He believes that if the government will agree to subsidize individuals not covered by employers, those covered by their job should get the option of making their own insurance decisions.
To that point, Maisel said, "health care will now be much more accessible to people. Is it perfect? No, but the fact that people might take advantage of this bill does not really concern me. I do not resent [the government for] taking money away from me to give aid to other people. I think that is what democracy and America is all about."
Abortion has been a heated point of debate within Congress and across the United States, especially surrounding how the bill will handle the issue. According to CBS News, the bill segregates private insurance premium funds from taxpayer funds. Individuals have to pay for their abortions by making two separate payments. And no health care plan will be required to offer abortion coverage. Separately, anti-abortion Democrats worked with the White House for an executive order underlining that no federal funds can be used to pay for abortions, except in the case of rape, incest or the health of the mother.
In the new reform bill, Medicaid--a joint federal and state program that helps low-income families pay for medical and long-term custodial care costs--is expanded to include 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $29,327 for a family of four. It requires states to expand Medicaid to include childless adults, starting in 2014. Also, the federal government will cover 100 percent of costs for newly eligible individuals through 2016, and illegal immigrants will not be eligible for Medicaid. Furthermore, illegal immigrants will not be allowed to buy any health insurance in the exchanges, even if they pay completely with their own money.
How will the reform bill affect more affluent families? Starting in 2012, the Medicare Payroll Tax will encompass unearned income, a 3.8 percent tax on investment income for families making more than $250,000 per year ($200,000 for individuals). Then in 2018, insurance companies will pay a 40 percent exercise tax on high-end insurance plans worth over $27,500 for families ($10,200 for individuals). For all those who enjoy a nice faux coloring, there will be a 10 percent exercise tax placed on indoor tanning services, so expect costs of services to rise in the upcoming years.
Starting in 2014, insurance companies cannot deny coverage to anyone with preexisting conditions and everyone must purchase health coverage by this date, or face a $695 annual fee (exceptions for low-income people).
â†’ See President Obama Speaks in Portland, Maine