Certain requirements of Obamacare are as popular if not more popular than the law. The requirement that everyone should get health insurance or face the wrath is one of the popular requirements. The requirement to get health insurance or face the law generated dislike for the law too. Other provisions of the law that received major publicity include the coverage for pre-existing conditions and extension of parents’ plans to cover their children.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) introduced by the Obama-led leadership has driven significant healthcare initiatives since it was enacted. Both the popular and not-so-popular aspects of the law play key roles in the changes in the changes in healthcare delivery. With the Obamacare replacement plan being steadily pushed by the GOP and more details gradually unveiled, the popular and not-so-popular requirements and effects of the law which shape healthcare delivery may be affected. Let's consider some of these details about Obamacare, things you probably do not know.
Access to Birth Control
Obamacare mandates improved access to birth control. The ACA requires that all insurance plans cover birth control. This provision and its accompanying effects have not received a lot of publicity. With the birth control provision of the ACA, more women have begun to use birth control pills with a corresponding decrease in the number of abortions indicated. Obamacare makes birth control available to every woman that has AC-compliant health insurance. With no co-pays for birth control and the associated savings, more women have embraced their use. According to Forbes, in 2013 alone, over $1 billion in co-pays was saved. With the access to birth control the ACA provides, more women are acknowledging access to birth control as part of essential healthcare services.
The calorie labeling provision of the ACA requires that all chains with at least 20 restaurants should list calories on their menus. The calorie labeling provision also applies to vending machines. This provision which was further detailed by the Food and Drugs Administration has been well accepted by the National Restaurant Association despite the slow implementation and made the major restaurant chains work towards deadlines set in 2017. This provision was included in hopes that people will make better choices when they are aware of how healthy foods are. Research has shown that calorie labeling has yielded minimal results. It is believed that the Obamacare replacement plan will not affect provisions that do not influence budgets such as the calorie labeling provision.
With the ACA, a new approval pathway was developed by biosimilar drugs. These are drugs that serve as cost-effective alternatives for the available biologics drugs. With the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, Obamacare made provisions for the faster approval of biosimilar drugs in comparison with their pricey counterparts. Research findings indicate that, if these drugs become readily available, they can cut healthcare costs by up to $250 billion. Although big pharmaceutical companies initially resisted this provision because of the competition it will pose to some of their best-selling products, over time, they began to focus on the development of biosimilar drugs.
Before ACA, health insurance companies could decide to cover the maximum amount of healthcare spending in a year. Lifetime limits also applied to insurance plans. With Obamacare, all health insurance plans have no limits for essential healthcare spending. ACA health insurance, whether provided by the employers or bought from the marketplace have unlimited coverage for essential health services. The elimination of the limitation in essential healthcare coverage is in line with the goal of making basic healthcare services readily accessible. That way, individuals and families covered by ACA-compliant plans will never have to make heavy out-of-pocket expenditure on essential healthcare services.
Medicare Donut Hole
The donut hole is the amount of money seniors under Medicare have to pay out of their pockets for drugs under the before they begin to receive coverage. This gap made seniors struggle to get even essential drugs because of their limited income. Obamacare made provisions to reduce the gap as part of easing access to healthcare for senior citizens. The ACA does this by reducing the percentage of out-of-pocket payments and reducing the percentages over the years. Adjustments of the donut hole made Obamacare particularly appealing to seniors.
Obamacare and Budget Deficits
Experts have predicted that in the long run, the ACA can significantly reduce budget deficits. This is related to the fact that the full implementation of the law can save costs. The “Cadillac tax” which applies to the most expensive health insurance plans plays a major role in the budget deficit-reducing ability of Obamacare.
Community Health Workers
The healthcare law made provisions for funding for community healthcare workers especially those that serve minorities and underserved communities. With this, the law hopes to bridge the healthcare disparities across different communities and racial groups. Obamacare focuses on health workers because they understand the needs of these communities better than nurses and doctors. Community health workers are in a better position to minorities and underserved communities understand the complicated healthcare system better.
While you may be familiar with the effects of Obamacare such as the creation of marketplaces, the more subtle effects such as improved funding to community health workers can easily go unnoticed. This article has thrown some light on details and effects of Obamacare that could easily go unnoticed.