In 2009, the Affordable Health Choices Act was passed. The aim of the act was to make healthcare more affordable and available for Americans. There has been a lot of opposition to such healthcare legislations. This opposition is as a result of skepticisms arising regarding the relevance of the healthcare Act in the American context, while it has not been very effective in Britain and Canada where it is applied. They also view this to be socialist and undemocratic.
Some Americans have grown skeptical about the helpfulness of the act. They claim that the healthcare bill just provided a government committee that decides what treatment/ benefits that Americans get. They also claim that according to page 29 lines 4-16 of the bill, healthcare will be rationed. They further claim that the bill allows for the health choices commissioner to choose the benefits that individuals will get. The bill has also been criticized for providing for illegal immigrants.
While some people will beg to differ, these facts have some truth and the affordable health choices act does have flaws. The health act will increase crowding in emergency rooms and increase waiting time for patients. Some people thought that by getting 32 million more people covered by health insurance would ease emergency room crowding thinking that these patients would be able to get healthcare by visiting a doctor’s office like the majority of insured people do (Johnson, 2010, par 2). However, it is not that straightforward. The government has to appreciate that there is already a shortage in frontline family physicians in various areas and it is even predicted that this shortage will get even worse. Another fact that the government needs to consider is the fact that, it is not the people who lack health insurance who crowd the country’s emergency rooms, but those under a comprehensive health care cover (Johnson, 2010, par 2). This is because they are wary of huge bills unlike people with private insurance. The biggest users of emergency room service are Medicaid recipients, and it is expected that the healthcare act will increase their numbers by around 16 million. Medicaid is the state program that caters for low-income families and the disabled (Johnson, 2010, par 2). Doctors usually reduce the number of Medicaid patients that they can accept because the government gives very low reimbursements.
Furthermore, hospitals are ill equipped to meet this new increased demand. Dr. Arthur Kellermann, a Rand Corp. researcher, argues that more people will have health coverage, and will therefore not be afraid to go to the emergency room if they fall sick, get hurt since they do not have any other place to go. There is no other place to take them and the system is already strained as it is (Johnson, 2010, par 2). He gives the example of Massachusetts which adopted a law requiring health insurance for virtually everyone. As a result of this move the state has experienced an increase in emergency room visits by 7 percent from 2005 to 2007.
What the government should have concentrated on is improving health infrastructure and capacities. The government should have looked into ways of funding improvements in healthcare facilities which are public. It should have also looked into ways of improving Medicare reimbursements so as to get more doctors to take Medicare patients and therefore alleviate crowding in emergency rooms.
The government efforts of making healthcare more accessible have bordered on control over the sector. The private sector is in a better position to provide better healthcare for the citizens. This is because the government does not possess a good track record of managing programs. There is no area of the economy that the government has operated efficiently, mainly because the government lacks the discipline that is present in the private sector (Harding, 2010, par3). For example, the United States Postal Service (USPS) recently recorded a loss of 238 million dollars for the year 2009 in complete contrast non-government operated companies like FedEx and UPS were profitable (Harding, 2010, par3).
Statistics show that the healthcare act is disapproved by majority of the American middle class. In Texas, for example, in spite of the fact that only one third of the population have full healthcare and only four fifth of all children have medical coverage; opposition to the healthcare act is as high as 87 percent (Erbe, 2010, par 4). Another reason to be skeptical about the healthcare bill is the fact that it is proposed by politicians who, in spite of having good interests, may not really know what is best for the citizens and may be driven by their quest for popularity and not the interests of the people (Erbe, 2010, par 4). Perhaps it would be best if experts in the field of healthcare were left in charge of policy-making as they are best suited for the task. However, it seems that experts and researchers in this field do not support the act as exhibited by Dr. Arthur Kellermann’s analysis as earlier noted.
The Affordable Health Choices Act was a great idea, meant to help the American people. However, it is riddled with flaws. First it has created a loophole for illegal non-Americans to access healthcare, a fact that does not sit well with Americans. Second, it was passed without regard to the health sectors ability to effectively manage the expected increase in emergency room cases.