Obamacare

Megan Chrisler, Features Editor

The big fight over the government shutdown is President Barack Obama’s landmark legislation, the Affordable Health Care Act. House Republicans want it delayed or altogether defunded; but Senate Democrats have kept it implemented thus far. In fact, it was implemented the day the government officially shut down.

What beef do the Republicans have over giving middle and lower class Americans the right to health care — not only that, but making it affordable? The health care industry has had problems for a while; two reasons being that it is too costly and not enough people have it. The administration has come up with a solution to these problems; why shut down the government over it?

A huge issue with the legislation is the concept of mandatory insurance. This works like car insurance; you have to have it, otherwise you’re fined (or taxed — nobody can agree which). At first this seems understandable, because if an uninsured person comes into the ER, somebody else eventually pays for it—just like if someone gets into a car accident uninsured. However, this is essentially forcing people into a market, a market now semi-regulated by the federal government (with car insurance, it’s at least state-controlled, which Republicans love).

Technically, the government says they will not be setting rates and such but instead will leave that to private insurers, but that doesn’t mean it can’t come along later and set regulations. Even if they didn’t, the whole concept is that government is getting their hands into yet another aspect of American life, a power that threatens independency and makes government fatter. It also means taxes go towards someone’s medical bills, which goes against basic American ethics of pro-individualism.

Obamacare also forbids health insurers from denying customers based on pre-existing conditions. It’s a sad truth that many who probably couldn’t afford to obtain health care in the first place, get sick and cannot pay their medical bills; and insurance companies are unwilling to take them on. It is also a sad truth — but a truth nonetheless — that it is a bad business move to give them insurance, for the obvious reason that they will cost a lot of money. This could lead to bankrupt businesses, and bankrupt businesses means less competition. This leads to more people going on government-sponsored plans, and we’re right back at government having too much power in the private sector. Even if businesses don’t fall, the fact that they have to account for expensive customers means prices go up — unless government sets regulations, which again goes back to the anti-government argument.

To be clear, there are serious problems with the health care system — and they have been here a while — that need fixing. Middle and lower class Americans also need and deserve health care; there is little to no debate on this from either political party. The debate lies in how to go about giving them the health care they need, and a huge overhaul like Obamacare was unnecessary. The government doesn’t have the right to control or sponsor anybody’s health care; private insurers, hospitals, and state governments could have — or should have — figured out a solution on their own. In defense, however, not only is it not worth a government shutdown, it’s also at least an attempt at a solution. If Obama hadn’t created this legislation, Republicans would be fuming over his lack of initiative in fixing the flawed health care system. At this point, America needs to figure out whether it works or not the hard way.