Republican leaders advocate for postponement of individual mandate
Soon after the Obama administration delayed the employer mandate, the House Republican leaders demanded that the Obama administration also postpone the individual mandate, which requires Americans to purchase their own health insurance. Since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act came about, the GOP has been attempting to repeal the provision, but it has been unsuccessful in its efforts.
As of right now, starting in 2014, all Americans will have access to affordable health insurance options and will be required under the individual mandate to obtain coverage or else face a penalty that will increase over time. Through the use of the health insurance exchanges, people can compare plans side by side to see which one is best for their medical and financial needs. In addition, middle- and low-income families will be able to see if they qualify for tax credits, and if they do, they can use them to cover a significant portion of their out-of-pocket medical costs.
Besides the online marketplace and tax credits, Medicaid is also expanding. Starting Jan. 1, 2014, people who have annual incomes of less than 133 percent of the poverty level can enroll in the federal health program. The Obama administration is supplying states with full funding for the first three years of expansion. After that, the government will provide 90 percent coverage.
Getting both parties on board
Republican leaders predict that since the employer mandate was delayed, Democrats may be more likely to accept the possibility of also postponing the individual mandate.
"Is it fair for the president of the U.S. to give American businesses an exemption from his healthcare law's mandates without giving the same exemption to the rest of America? Hell no, it's not fair," said Speaker John Boehner at a closed-door gathering of House Republicans on July 9, quoted by The New York Times.
In addition to these two provision delays, the Obama administration also announced that the requirement for federal and state insurance exchanges to confirm whether Americans seeking subsidies actually qualify for them will be postponed.
All of these changes have caused the GOP and the Democratic party to bump heads as government officials attempt to figure out what is best for the American population.
Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., senior Democrat on the Ways and Means subcommittee on health, discussed with The Times why he did not believe the government should abandon the individual mandate altogether.
"If you take away the individual mandate, that would dismantle a core concept of universal coverage," he told the news source. "We have been waiting for national healthcare coverage since Teddy Roosevelt, for more than 100 years. One more year is not the end of the earth."
Working toward universal access
Universal access to healthcare is a vision that President Barack Obama has had in the making since he first became president back in 2008. Since he has been in office, he has begun implementing provisions of the ACA to transform the landscape of the U.S. healthcare system. Now, not only has health information technology been adopted in many hospitals and physician practices across the country, but efforts to improve access to preventative care services have already been successful.
Preventative care services that are now free under the ACA include screenings for blood pressure and cholesterol, essential vaccinations and diet counseling for adults who are considered high risk for chronic disease, to name a few.
By regularly seeking the necessary preventative care services recommended by healthcare providers, people can stay on top of their health and actively prevent the development of preventable, chronic conditions, which not only impact affected individuals' well-beings, but their finances as well.
*Note: Content provided is not intended as legal or tax advice.