Although the current administration has only been fighting for health care reform for a year, the debate has been raging since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. Congressional approval of President Obama’s historic health care legislation marks the biggest overhaul of health care in 45 years — since President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965.
The new reform bill will provide coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, attempt to control rising costs and prevent common insurance company abuses. Californians, however, have reason to feel especially blessed. As a result of recent recession layoffs, a staggering 8.2 million people in California do not have health insurance. That one in four of us under the age of 65 are currently uninsured emphasizes how health care reform is especially crucial for Californians.
Despite what the Republican following at USC might tell you, the health care reform bill is a good thing for the state of California.
Fortunately, the historic bill allows college graduates to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 27. This will provide a degree of financial relief as we struggle to find jobs during the economic downturn.
Saya Taniguchi, an undecided freshman, said she was relieved by the provision. “It’s going to be nice to be able to use my dad’s employer-based insurance well after I graduate, in case I can’t find a job which provides me with alternative coverage,” she said.
Adults who already have employer-based health insurance will not see much change to their policies over the next few months, but they will have peace of mind knowing that in the event they lose their job, they cannot be denied coverage or charged higher rates because of pre-existing conditions.
Opponents of the reform bill have attempted to convince the rest of the country that the bill will bankrupt America.
Most independent studies, specifically the one performed by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, indicate that the legislation will actually reduce our national deficit by $138 billion over the next 10 years. Current health care expenditures are very high because of physician and provider overtreatment; the new bill hopes to curb some of these costs by increasing the out-of-pocket costs to patients, encouraging price-based decision making rather than wasteful hospital visits.
More importantly, Medicare costs will go down because doctors and medical institutions will be paid for the quality of their services rather than quantity.
America is the only advanced nation in the world that does not guarantee health care to the vast majority of its citizens. Just like historically contested reforms of the past such as Social Security and minimum wage, we will look back on this health care bill as an indispensable part of our country’s safety net.
The health care reform process still has a long way to go before its full implementation in 2014, but at least it has begun.
Gokul Agrawal is a senior majoring in business administration.