Healthcare Reform is a comprehensive policy that has resulted in significant changes to the American healthcare system. Most individuals use the term interchangeably with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Its primary focus is to ensure that all the residents have equitable and affordable access to medical services when needed (Glied et al., 2023). Again, it has helped address the ever-rising health costs of national health care by individuals, families, and the government. Over the years, the amendment has served many purposes, including increasing the number of insured people, increasing healthcare accessibility, and enhancing the overall quality of care. Despite the many benefits citizens enjoy, the health policy has significant limitations. Examining the benefits and the negative aspects of Healthcare Reform may contribute significantly to assessing the current situation of medical services in various US states, including Florida.
The Benefits and Negative Aspects
The benefits of the Health Reform include expanding health insurance coverage, making healthcare more affordable, and covering more screening. One of the primary goals of health reform is to minimize the number of uninsured. Over the years, the ACA has succeeded in increasing insurance coverage (Kominski et al., 2017). The reform requires all Americans to have health insurance while offering assistance to those who cannot afford a plan. Besides, it protects millions of individuals with preexisting conditions from being denied coverage due to health status. Apart from increasing the number of insured people, the reform has also played a pivotal role in enabling more people to access medical care, primarily low-income individuals. ACA also covers many screenings and preventative services that usually have low deductibles. This practice contributes significantly, allowing to have higher quality and cheaper healthcare.
Some of the negative aspects include higher premium costs, especially for individuals who already have health insurance. Despite the highlighted positive outcomes of the Healthcare Reform, the policy has been highly controversial. Higher insurance premiums and tax increases have been among the leading factors that attract objection and criticism from critics. Recently, the monthly premium prices have increased significantly. This rise emanated from the high number of people with preexisting healthcare coverage (Roland, 2019). In other words, the preexisting condition clause is no longer valid, making the taxpayers cover these costs, which results in higher premiums to meet the needs and cover the extra spending.
Another area that has raised concern over the years is that one may be fined if they do not have insurance. The goal of the Health Reform is to ensure that all US residents are insured year-round. Thus, when an individual is uninsured and does not obtain an exemption, they are subject to a modest fine. Some individuals feel the policy is intrusive since it forces everyone to have health insurance. However, the reform’s supporters defend the move, indicating that not having coverage passes one’s healthcare expenses onto everyone else.
The Current Situation of Healthcare Services in Florida
Florida ranks low in health services. It is near the bottom among all US states for healthcare based on cost, accessibility, and medical outcomes. Even before the Covid-19 outbreak, most Floridians were uninsured. The state also has a significant percentage of elderly and individuals with disabilities. One of the reasons for the high insurance costs in the form is that Florida employees cover less of the expenses than workers in other states. Again, the ACA does not provide subsidies for individuals with low income. It is among the states yet to expand Medicaid eligibility as allowed by the Health Reform (Norris, 2022). Instead, Florida law called for the residents to have Medicaid.
The opponents of the Medicaid expansion have typically cited the concern that their states will likely encounter rising medical costs. However, Medicaid expansion is one of the most efficient and economical programs that may enable the state to extend coverage to many low-income Floridians. In states like Florida that are reluctant to embrace the expansion, individuals eligible for Medicaid and those in the low-income group are in a severe coverage gap. Indeed, residents need an inclusive health insurance plan that increases care accessibility and affordability whenever needed without worrying whether one can afford it. As a result, Florida should consider expanding Medicaid eligibility while making it easier for people to apply for the program and stay covered to improve its health services, affordability, accessibility, and patient outcomes.
Since the Health Reform was signed into law more than a decade ago, the American healthcare system has witnessed remarkable progress. The initiative has significantly increased access to affordable health coverage and medical care. Expanding the publicly funded Medicaid program helped reduce the number of people without health coverage across the US. Despite the provision of this law, some countries are yet to expand Medicaid eligibility. The practice has seen some states rank low in health services. Hence, it is evident that the reform is pivotal in advancing health equity and enhancing the health of all Americans.
Glied, S. A., Ma, S., & Borja, A. (2023). Effect of the Affordable Care Act on health care access. Commonwealth Fund. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2017/may/effect-affordable-care-act-health-care-access
Kominski, G. F., Nonzee, N. J., & Sorensen, A. (2017). The Affordable Care Act impacts low-income populations’ access to insurance and health care. Annual Review of Public Health, 38(1), 489-505. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031816-044555
Norris, L. (2022, January 28). ACA Medicaid expansion in Florida [Updated 2022 guide]. healthinsurance.org. https://www.healthinsurance.org/medicaid/florida/
Roland, J. (2019, August 17). The pros and cons of ObamaCare. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/consumer-healthcare-guide/pros-and-cons-obamacare