The state health insurance exchanges that are a result of the Affordable Care Act went live in North Carolina on Tuesday. That means that in the coming days and months, the reality of President Obama’s sweeping healthcare reform law will, in many ways, cease to be just an idea that politicians either rally against or defend, with equal rabidity on both sides, and will instead become real for millions of people in the state. Some people who have never had insurance will be receiving it for the first time as a result of the law, and it’s hard to argue that, in and of itself, is a bad thing. The problem is that the ACA makes that possible by forcing many people who don’t want insurance to buy it, or face the consequence of a yearly fine, which increase in subsequent years.
All of the major opinion polls show the same thing — people don’t fully understand the ACA, but they know they don’t like it. And why should they? The main message that has been projected to Americans through major media sources and politicians is that the ACA is going to hit them where it hurts — their wallet.
Young people who are being forced onto the exchanges, the so-called “young invincibles,” are essentially financing the law. They are the glue that will hold the ACA together and make it fiscally possible for it to work. Never mind that many of the young people who are just entering the workforce and starting families are at a financially precarious stage in life, where they are doing their best to plan for the future and secure a decent standard of living for themselves. They aren’t likely to visit doctors with any frequency, so it’s a safe bet that their premiums will be easy money that can be funneled into other healthcare costs separate from the ones they generate.
What’s even more frustrating about the ACA is that when the public option was eliminated from the law, it became little more than a gargantuan subsidy for the same major insurance agencies that were responsible for many of the problems the ACA was designed to rectify. Only two health insurance providers will be offering plans on North Carolina’s exchange, according to a recent report in the Charlotte Observer. It is simply unacceptable that two firms will reap the financial windfall from the implementation of the ACA.
There aren’t many people out there who would argue that citizens of the United States of America aren’t deserving of adequate and affordable healthcare.
But, as far as the Affordable Care Act is concerned, we can do better.