With the presidential election almost here, now’s the time to weigh each candidate and the policies they have to offer. President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney stand for opposing plans when it comes to healthcare, and it is important to understand the facts of each side. In today’s world, the term Obamacare is one that is discussed often, but what exactly does that term entail? Taking a closer look at Obama’s health care policies will help you to make an educated choice come Election Day.

What is Obamacare?

In March of 2010, President Obama signed The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Today, the next phase of Obamacare is the Health Care for America Plan, which is focused on health care funding, reducing the cost of healthcare for Americans, increasing coverage, and removing the burden that healthcare has become.

What does Obamacare do?

Obamacare was designed to make healthcare more affordable for more people. Instead of shifting the cost of healthcare, Obamacare reduces the overall cost and has numerous benefits, such as:

  • Prescription drug costs are lowered to reduce overall costs
  • Fraud and waste is eliminated
  • Greater Efficiencies promoting how care is delivered
  • Pre-existing condition exclusions are eliminated
  • Private insurers are not allowed to deny coverage or increase costs because of gender or health status
  • Covers thirty million Americans who would otherwise be uninsured
  • No guaranteed benefits are cut

Does Obamacare eliminate Medicare?

Medicare and Medicaid are federal health insurance programs for seniors that were signed into law in 1965. Prior to these, older adults were forced to pay for prevention benefits out of their own pockets. Today, these people have full health coverage thanks to the long-term care services of Medicare and Medicaid.

Both programs were designed to help cut the costs for older adults. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 7 in 10 nursing home residents are covered through Medicaid, as it pays for over 40% of total long-term care services provided in homes, the community and nursing homes. This is just one advantage of Medicaid.

A common misconception is that Obamacare will eliminate Medicare and Medicaid, and for most adults, that’s a big concern. Without Medicare, millions of people can be left without a beneficial health care plan. Fortunately, Obamacare was created to help Medicare and Medicaid, not hurt them. In fact, Obamacare makes key enhancements to Medicare and Medicaid by adding new and improved benefits.

In July of 2012, AARP was quoted saying, “The Affordable Care Act strengthens Medicare by protecting and improving your guaranteed benefits and cracking down on waste, fraud and inefficiency.”

What are the advantages of Obamacare?

New Benefits

  • Preventive services are free. This means that you don’t have to pay for precautionary acts such as vaccines, mammograms, colonoscopies, etc.
  • Wellness exams are also free and include personalized prevention plans just for you
  • Medication therapy management is offered to avoid harmful drug usage

Lower Costs

  • Drug cost is lowered and made more affordable
  • Fraud and abuse is reduced
  • Excess payments to private Medicare Advantage plans are removed

Improved Quality

  • Quality bonuses are given to doctors and hospitals so that they can improve their quality
  • Infections acquired in the hospital are prevented
  • Care is organized to enhance patient care
  • Bonus payments are given to primary doctors and general surgeons to improve the overall patient care
  • Doctors and nurses are encouraged due to new loans and scholarships

Improved Safety

  • Because Obama signed the Elder Justice Act, abuse against older adults is prevented by Elder Justice Grants. Furthermore, training is offered to enhance care of patients with dementia
  • Nursing home and home care workers have to pass criminal background checks before being hired

What are the disadvantages of Obamacare?

There are a number of disadvantages when it comes to Obama’s healthcare plan, some of which include:

  • Increased coverage can raise healthcare costs
  • New taxes, penalties, and fees will discourage businesses from growing, and that can hurt the economy
  • The Federal government will force millions of people who are uninsured to go under Medicaid
  • Millions will still remain uninsured

Similar to any other policy, Obamacare has a number of advantages and disadvantages for you to weigh. As the upcoming election quickly approaches, it is up to you to take a closer look each candidate’s stance on healthcare and decide which one would benefit you more.

Jan Schakowsky’s Seniors and Obamacare

Melanie Marzillo
Research & Community Education

Assisted Living for Dementia 
Chicago Senior Services