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Americans Confused: Affordable Care Act? Great! Obamacare? No Way!

Since its conception, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (ACA) has stirred up a lot of controversy within the U.S. government as well as with the American people. Soon after its creation it was dubbed with the nickname “Obamacare,” and from then on it has received a lot of negative criticism from many Americans, much of which seems to stem from confusion about what it actually is. It appears to be a common misconception that Obamacare and ACA are two different things, and it may be possible that its association with the president’s name turns people off to it without even knowing what it is. With ACA coming into effect October first, people need to know what it entails.

The ACA is a law that was created with the purpose of providing the American people with universal health care. It was created in the hope that unfortunate illnesses or injuries wouldn’t create bills that would loom over a person for the rest of their life. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the ACA ends pre-existing condition exclusions for children, makes it possible for people under 26 to be covered under their parent’s health care, guarantees your right to quickly appeal any health insurance company decision, enforces same premium rates for any sex and covers preventative care at no extra cost.

“The idea behind the still-controversial law is to get as many people access to affordable health insurance, expand the benefits they receive, and hopefully increase their overall health while reducing the growth of health care costs nationally,” according to CNBC. It could cost an individual around a thousand dollars a year for the mandated insurance but would greatly decrease hospital bills down the line.

The ACA technically just kicked in this month on the first of October and January first of 2014 everyone is supposed to be covered by some sort of health care, whether it be by the government, an employer or their parent’s insurance.

A recent CNBC poll asked 812 Americans their opinion on the law. They asked half of the poll takers if they support Obamacare, and half if they support ACA. Forty-six percent opposed Obamacare, and 37 percent opposed ACA; 29 percent supported ACA when only 22 supported Obamacare. The poll represents the general public’s feelings towards the law, but the two produced different results; the only problem with this is that the two terms represent the exact same thing. I think this supports what has been said about people’s distaste for “Obamacare” for the last three years since it began: it is all in the name.

It seems people throughout the general population are not aware that “Obamacare” is a nickname for the ACA. Jimmy Kimmel exhibited this by doing random interviews on Hollywood boulevard, asking people general knowledge questions pertaining to what Obamacare was, then what the ACA was, and then asking them their opinions on both. All of the people shown in the clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live had varying opinions based on the thought that they were separate things. Of course the funniest interviews were put on the air in the segment called “Six of One” from Kimmel’s YouTube page.

“Which plan do you support: Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act?” the interviewer asks. “Affordable Care Act… I just think that there are a lot of holes in [Obamacare] and it needs to be revamped,” one woman responded. This seems like a comical happening except it’s increasingly becoming more common that people make judgments without truly understanding the situation.

The same CNBC poll previously mentioned also found that 30 percent of respondents admitted to not knowing what ACA was, but only 12 percent admitted to not knowing what Obamacare was. It’s a health care mandate that will require everyone who is not somehow insured to buy health care from the government. You can decide to opt out of buying the mandatory health care and it will cost you around $95 a year, or 1 percent of your income, whichever is more. After the first year it will increase yearly until it will cost you about 695, or 2.5 percent of your income, according to CBS online.

An article on Yahoo! news discusses the Kimmel skit: “Another point made with one of the interviewees reflects the findings of a recent NPR (a non-profit multimedia organization) report, which shows that many individuals who say they are opposed to Obamacare actually support many of the law’s provisions when they are explained individually and without the baggage of being attached to President Obama.” I think it is a shame that we live in a time where people feel comfortable not knowing about something as huge as universal health care, something that will affect nearly every person in the country.

CNBC reports that the cost of ACA will vary based on factors such as your age, where you live, whether you smoke or not, and how individual insurers have priced their premiums in your particular exchange. This means if you pay more in insurance costs yearly, the cost you would have to pay in medical bills if something happened decreases and vice versa. Overall, since cost and coverage depends on many different factors it is easy to see where Americans have gotten confused in the multitude of rules. The Kaiser Family Foundation with the help of NPR has created a calculator to help you find out an estimate of what ACA will cost you personally and will inform you on whether or not you qualify for subsidized insurance coverage or Medicaid.

From what I do know, ACA is supposed to make it easier for everyone to have health care. You never know what is going to happen in life, whether it is an accident or a predisposition to hereditary diseases. The premium costs might be more expensive than anyone would want to pay right now, but that seems better than medical bills for the next 20 years because of some unfortunate ladder accident. Also, if someone chooses to opt out and pay the fees which could end up costing $695 or more if their income is higher, why not just pay the amount and end up having health insurance rather than paying to opt out which would probably be close to the amount they would have paid for the insurance in the first place? Americans need to become more aware of what ACA actually is, what they’ll be paying for or paying to opt out of and how it will benefit them before January first rolls around and everyone is caught off guard.

Avery Twible can be reached atavery.twible@spartans.ut.edu

Studies show that many Americans think Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are different things. | Barrack Obama/Facebook

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