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Garret Johnson '14: Should Obamacare be repealed?

Obamacare attempts to address the three major shortcomings in the American health care system - lack of access, high costs and mediocre quality of care. While there remains work to be done, repealing Obamacare would be a major economic and moral setback for the United States.

Morally, there is no more pressing issue facing the U.S. health care system than a lack of access to care. Before the passage of Obamacare, about 50 million Americans lacked health care insurance. Obama's bill attempts to expand insurance coverage in several ways. For example, under Obamacare, no insurance company can deny you coverage due to a pre-existing condition.

The largest expansion of access in Obamacare comes from expanding eligibility for Medicaid. Obamacare provides funding for states to expand Medicaid eligibility to everyone who is below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. By some estimates, approximately 30 million more Americans will be insured thanks to this provision.

The bill also allows children to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until the age of 26, and it forbids insurance companies from charging women more than they charge men, which makes sense in a country that cherishes equality under the law.

Now on to the most controversial part of the law - the individual mandate. This clause - born in a conservative think tank in the 1990s - states that all Americans who can afford health insurance must purchase it. Some Republicans have decried this provision as a big government takeover of health care. In fact, the mandate will expand the customer base of America's private insurance companies.

Furthermore, the mandate is based on sound economic theory. Many young, healthy people choose not to buy insurance because they figure that they won't get sick. The problem with that is that it creates a situation where only sick people purchase insurance, causing costs to skyrocket for everyone - health care premiums for families increased by 50 percent from 2003 to 2010.

To make matters worse, who ends up paying the bill for people who seek care without coverage? The rest of us. In 2009, U.S. hospitals provided $39.1 billion in uncompensated care.

Some have argued that the mandate will force those who can't afford insurance into buying it anyway. In reality, the mandate includes exceptions for financial hardship and religious objections. So these critics are, frankly, lying.



Garret Johnson '14 is a proud native of Massachusetts, whose health care reform inspired Obamacare. Thank you, Governor Romney.



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