ObamaCare (otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act or ACA) has been a very controversial law. There are many supporters, but there are also many people who have serious concerns about it. We don’t yet know exactly what the results of the law will be, which leads to a lot of speculation. There will certainly be many health care reform pros and cons. Here are some of the pros and cons of ObamaCare that are commonly discussed.

Pros of ObamaCare:

Some insurance market reforms have already taken effect. The changes that are already in place include: allowing children to stay on their parent’s health insurance until age 26; no lifetime limits on health coverage; and new insurance policies must provide preventive care without any form of cost-sharing.

Additional benefits will begin in 2014. Here are some of the elements of the ACA that will take effect January 1, 2014:

  • Health care coverage for uninsured Americans. Through a combination of creating the health insurance marketplace and encouraging the states to expand Medicaid, millions of Americans without health insurance now have access to affordable coverage. Whether someone works part-time or their workplace simply can’t or won’t offer health insurance, their medical needs can be covered.
  • Reducing uninsured health events. Taxpayers have always been on the hook for uninsured Americans who end up needing emergency or life-saving health care. These citizens receive the care they need, but can’t afford to pay the bill. The result is that the hospitals take additional government money or simply raise their prices for everyone. Because ObamaCare requires citizens to have health coverage, we will dramatically reduce the instances of uninsured health events.
  • No more coverage discrimination due to health issues or gender. In the past, insurance companies could charge outrageous prices or even deny coverage to Americans based on particular medical conditions, age, or gender. Just because you are ill, born with a disability, or female and may need pregnancy care, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have access to affordable coverage. By changing the rules governing the way insurers set premiums and requiring all Americans to have health coverage, the ACA is able to increase the number of Americans paying for insurance coverage. This helps offset the additional cost of insurers covering these patients and ends coverage discrimination.
  • Expansion of employer sponsored health coverage. Many employers don’t offer any health insurance to employees, even those working full-time. ObamaCare requires all companies with over 50 full-time equivalent employees to offer health insurance to full-time staff by 2016 or they may be subject to a penalty. This may increase the number of Americans receiving employer-subsidized health insurance plans, potentially reducing the need for these individual to receive Medicaid or premium subsidies through the marketplace at taxpayer expense.

Cons of ObamaCare:

Most of the cons of the ACA are based on the unintended consequences the law may have, and on the high costs of government-subsidized health care to the American taxpayers in a country that is already in debt.

  • Working Americans will pay more. Most middle-class Americans hold full-time jobs and receive health insurance through their employers. Health care costs were rising before the Affordable Care Act became law, and combined with the effects of the law, employers will likely re-evaluate the insurance they offer. As employers attempt to reduce the cost of providing coverage to employees, employed Americans may pay more for their work-based health insurance, and citizens with very high-cost work-based coverage may see their benefits decline to avoid the taxes that these plans will incur beginning in 2018.
  • Some of the required coverages are against the moral values of employers. The mandate to offer contraception with no charge to the patient has caused a lot of issues, especially for employers whose moral code dictates that they not support contraception of any type. Several active lawsuits address this particular issue. Because the United States allows the free practice of religion, the issue of a health coverage law that may require some Americans to act against their religious beliefs is one facet of ObamaCare that concerns people.
  • Adding additional health care expenses will impact workers. Supporters of the ACA contend that most employers won’t see any change, as they already offer health care. Opponents feel that although costs were rising before ObamaCare, they will increase more due to the law. This will cause some employers to offer lower coverage or perhaps no coverage to their workers, or perhaps increase the amount employees pay for health insurance to offset higher premiums from the insurance company.
  • America is already very far in debt – why add more? As a country the United States is currently in significant debt. Adding more major government programs, such as subsidizing health care, may only make that debt worse. As it stands currently, the ACA reportedly has the potential to save more money than it spends over the first ten years. However, if the law runs over budget, it will be the taxpayers who wind up at a greater disadvantage than ever before.

As you can see, there are many arguments both for and against the ACA. The pros and cons of ObamaCare will be playing out for many years to come.  

Learn more about the most up to date employer information here.