The importance of insurance and especially medical insurance cannot be gainsaid as far as safeguarding the health of the nation is concerned. Indeed, it is recognized that health insurance lowers the cost that an individual would incur in case he or she suffers from an ailment or is admitted in a hospital. However, recent trends about the uptake of insurance have been worrying. Research shows that there has been a consistent increase in the number of uninsured Americans with studies showing that 16 million, 29 million, and 30 million Americans had no insurance cover in 2003, 2010, and 2012 respectively (Fitzgerald, 2013). This has been mainly attributed to the relatively high cost of insurance, which makes it impossible for individuals to afford insurance policies. This underlines the fact that any strategy that aims at increasing the uptake of insurance in the United States would have to target the affordability of insurance policies.
According to Ferrara (2010), reforming Medicaid is the preliminary step towards the reduction of the number of uninsured Americans. This is especially considering the substandard coverage that Medicaid has been providing since its inception to the more than 50 million Americans. In this regard, the United States Congress must take proactive and comprehensive measures that would enhance the uptake of coverage. This would involve not only a reduction in the cost of insurance but also policies that would require individuals to take up medical insurance. The reforms will require congress to transform Medicaid to assist Americans who cannot afford insurance cover in private health insurance. This will be accomplished by the use of health insurance vouchers and federal assistance block grants.
Indeed, different political parties have offered different proposal aimed at increasing the uptake of insurance by Americans. Republicans have vouched for market-based solutions, where Americans would go for the cheaper health insurance policies that the market provides (Karen, 2007). This means that the companies would be competing based on cost, which would necessarily result in healthcare insurance cost reduction. Democrats, on the other hand, have proposed that public-based programs and employer-based coverage be expanded and strengthened through reinvestment of the gains derived from enhanced efficiency resulting from synchronization between results and incentives.
Obama medical reforms involve necessary legal measures that would pressure uninsured Americans and insurance companies. They aim at decreasing the number of uninsured Americans by putting pressure on insurance companies and managed care plans to extend their coverage to individuals with preexisting conditions (Karen, 2007).
Obama care (Affordable Care Act) seems to have followed this strategy, especially considering that the federal government is bound to subsidize premiums to reduce the cost of health insurance, while still requiring all people to have health insurance. Such policies have been found as extremely effective in decreasing the number of uninsured Americans (Russell & Cohn, 2012). Studies on the effectiveness of customized Affordable Care Act in various states show that it would decrease costs. Louisiana and New Mexico are projected to have a decline in their premiums by 2016 (Russell & Cohn, 2012). As much as some states such as Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Kansas are projected to have an increase in their premium by up to 43%, the increase is bound to be offset by federal tax credits.
On the same note, this strategy is projected to increase the number of insured Americans in the small group market. Scholars project that the small group coverage would increase by 5% in the entire United States, with research carried out on seven states including Ohio, New Mexico, South Carolina, Louisiana, South Carolina, Minnesota, Kansas, Texas and North Dakota showing a projected increase by about 7% (Russell & Cohn, 2012).
- Ferrara, P. (2010, February 15). A real solution for covering the uninsured. Fox News Network LLC. Retrieved September 11, 2013, http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/02/15/peter-ferrara-obama-health-care-reform-medicare/
- Fitzgerald, K. (2013, May 9). Millions of Americans still without adequate insurance survey shows. Bexhill-on-Sea: MediLexicon International Limited. Retrieved September 11, 2013, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/259748.php
- Karen, D. (2007, February 16). Uninsured in America: Problems and possible solutions. The Commonwealth Fund. Retrieved September 11, 2013, from http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Publications/In-the-Literature/2007/Feb/Uninsured-in-America–Problems-and-Possible-Solutions.aspx
- Russell, J & Cohn, R (2012). Patient protection and affordable care act. S.l.: Book On Demand Ltd.