Though the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as simply the ACA and Obamacare, is approximately 2,400 pages long in total length, there are key components of the act that spark a significant amount of controversy and debate. Enough debate to have the nation essentially split directly, and ultimately to have been a key factor in the recent government shutdown effective as of October 1st. Coincidentally and ironically, it was because of this government shutdown pertaining to the ACA that I could not obtain access to some documents on it. Fortunately there are many other non-government affiliated documents on the subject, and I’d like to hone on one major factor of the ACA, a contentious component that I feel is one of the most imperative, known as the individual mandate. The definition of the individual mandate, to go into effect with the anticipated implementation of Obamacare, is defined by kaiserhealthnews.org as “…a provision of the federal health law that requires you, your children and anyone else that you claim as a dependent on your taxes to have health insurance in 2014 or pay a penalty. That coverage can be supplied through your job, public programs such as Medicare or Medicaid, or an individual policy that you purchase. The health law is setting up online health insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges, to help you shop for plans.”
Republicans see it as a power-hungry move by the government for control and an infringement on their rights; however, if the end goal is of benefit to society as a whole, and literally promote the general welfare, that view cannot truly be upheld. On the side of Democrats, though in favor of the act, one of the controversial views regarding this mandate is that although its goal is aiming to close the disparity in those who can afford health insurance and those who cannot, it isn’t fully solving the problem in providing a universal health care system for all members of society in the United States. What I feel people are neglecting to remember, however, is that it is a step in the right direction, and if there are enough current issues between the two parties on simply obtaining this first victory, delving straight into the ultimate goal is inefficient and unrealistic. In addition, it is always positive to have two varying views on an issue in order to keep it in perspective.
The mandate of health insurance for all American citizens will additionally aid in eliminating the rising problem of individuals and families being denied health insurance, or charged higher, for preexisting health conditions, whether minor or not. Currently insurance companies have the power to dictate who gets what type of insurance in an attempt to ensure that they have the healthiest clients, in turn resulting in a vicious cycle of less fortunate citizens, monetarily and health-wise, continually receiving less care and a higher probability of health problems. Though it is easy to criticize new initiatives, the important thing is that it is still just that: new, progressive, an idea. And as Cardinal Mahony stated, “Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members ; the last, the least, the littlest.”