From the headlines of morning newspapers to casual lunchtime discussions, the huge controversy surrounding Thursday’s Supreme Court decision is evident almost anywhere you go. The 5-4 ruling to uphold most of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has caused Americans to speak up. “Obamacare,” PPACA, health care reform — it all means the same thing. Regardless of political affiliation, annual income or social class, this decision will affect each and every one of us.
It’s pointless for me to whine about President Barack Obama’s new policy or the socialist undertones that many conservative leaders have been babbling about. I find it interesting, however, that the Supreme Court upheld this law when over 70 percent of Americans believe that an individual mandate is unconstitutional, according to a Gallup Poll conducted before the ruling. Even though opposition to the law has diminished slightly since the ruling, 52 percent of all registered voters and 62 percent of Independents still oppose the law.
Don’t get me wrong — I agree that the cost of health care in our country has become excessive and unreasonable. Not to mention that health care as a whole can be completely unavailable to many Americans. But does this make it right for the highest, most powerful court in our nation to mandate individual health insurance when so many of us feel it’s unconstitutional?
In case you’ve been hibernating from society for the past few days, some of the main components of Obama’s health care reform include extending health insurance to 30 million uninsured Americans, banning insurance companies from turning away clients with pre-existing health conditions and requiring everyone to purchase individual health insurance. Those who refuse to buy their own health insurance will be forced to pay a “penalty” or tax under the new policy.
Praise should be given where praise is due. We commend our government for finally recognizing the problems that the American health care system faces. No one should be turned away from health insurance because they’ve been diagnosed with cancer, nor should we be paying obnoxious fees for life-saving surgeries and treatments. We deserve the right to affordable and accessible health care, regardless of income or insurance policy. Yet, there are other ways to do this rather than mandating health insurance to each and every American.
Not only does the government appear to be drastically overstepping its constitutional authority with PPACA, but also the strain it puts on small businesses will force many of them to close their doors. In a time when our economy is still struggling to recover, the government should not be placing additional stress on entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Our health care system needs to change, but mandating health insurance is not the right way to do it. Whether it’s phrased as a “penalty” or a tax, it isn’t fair to force Americans to purchase insurance and then fine them if they refuse to do so. According to Time.com, under the new health reform policy, young Americans will actually be paying more for health insurance than they are paying now. Under the PPACA, younger, relatively healthy individuals will be paying to subsidize the surgeries and necessary treatment that ailing Americans require.
The United States never seems to lack innovative, fresh ideas. I believe other options do exist that don’t mandate individual health insurance. Though the Obama administration may have pure intentions by establishing the Affordable Care Act, this time the government has overstepped its boundaries and dug too deep into our personal lives. In a country that values its Constitution so highly, I’m astonished our Supreme Court would uphold this individual mandate as constitutional. There shouldn’t be winners and losers when it comes to the health care debate in this country — there should only be winners. And with the current political atmosphere surrounding the Supreme Court’s decision, this is most definitely not the case.
Sarah Skaluba can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @SSkaluba.