The Affordable Care Act, which is recent healthcare legislation that will allow young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, is a hot-button issue this election season. But for students, this new extension isn’t the only health issue they should be concerned about.
The act will benefit small business employers and self-employed individuals but could hinder large companies. Currently, small businesses pay 18 percent more for health insurance policies than large firms, but the new plan allows small businesses to join exchange pools and receive tax credits to offset the cost of insurance. This is good news for students who plan to work for a small business after college. However, the act will penalize large companies who do not provide health insurance to their employees, and it may affect a company’s decision to hire or not hire new employees. All companies who employ 50 people or more will be penalized if they do not provide health benefits.
ACA may also hinder innovations and advancement in medical technology. Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, there will be a new 2.3 percent excise tax — a tax on the production or sale of goods — on medical devices for manufacturers, producers and importers. So when a device maker sells a replacement hip, they will have to fork over 2.3 percent of the money made off that sale to the government. Medical developers are already making cuts on the quantity of production, and the less these companies produce the fewer jobs there will be in this field.
In 2014, all American citizens will be required to buy health insurance or face a penalty. Like health care systems in Canada, France and the United Kingdom, this plan intends to spread the costs of health insurance across the population, because everyone pays into one system. This is a key way of making healthcare more accessible and affordable to all Americans. But the program may benefit young people disproportionately, because they tend to spend less on health care than older populations. Those who are healthy will make up for those who are unhealthy.
Gov. Mitt Romney said if he is elected to office, he plans to repeal ACA. Romney would keep the pool insurance exchanges with small businesses and individuals but would eliminate the excise tax. It is unclear how he would handle the individual mandate.
Support for universal health care comes down to individual values. Should everyone be entitled to healthcare, even if that means sharing some of the wealth, or should your hard-earned money go solely to your well-being and livelihood? Both values are valid, but only time will tell where they lead us.
To view further information on the Affordable Care Act visit www.healthcare.gov
To view Mitt Romney’s health care plan visit www.mittromney.com/issues/health-care