by Naomi Bang ‘23
As president-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office next January, issues such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—previously coined Obamacare—have emerged for debate. Despite Trump’s continuous attempts to dismantle this healthcare law and the recent Supreme Court case challenging its constitutionality, Biden is an avid supporter of the ACA. He promises to make healthcare a “right for all, not a privilege for a few.” He outlined his plan to expand healthcare coverage to 97 percent of Americans by creating a public health insurance option that will lower costs and be inclusive of all. Most teenagers wouldn’t even give a thought about healthcare or the ACA because it does not seem relevant in their daily lives. So why does healthcare matter?
Coverage for Teens and Young Adults
The ACA enables anyone up to the age of 26 to be included under their parents’ health insurance plan. Prior to 2010 when this ACA regulation was implemented, young adults typically had to meet other requirements such as being enrolled in school full-time. Now, anyone under 26 is eligible to stay under their parents’ coverage even if they do not live in their parents house or are not full-time enrolled in school.
Patients with Pre-existing Conditions
A pre-existing condition is a medical condition that a patient has been diagnosed with or received treatment for before starting a new healthcare plan. Illnesses may include diabetes, epilepsy, depression, or asthma. The ACA bans insurance companies from denying coverage or increasing rates for patients with pre-existing conditions. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) estimated that 27 percent of nonelderly adults had a pre-existing condition in 2018. Prior to the ACA, that 27 percent could have been denied healthcare.
Expanding Discounts to Middle Class Families
Biden’s new proposed additions to the ACA include expanding healthcare for the middle class. A middle class family of four makes a household income of about $105,000. Montgomery County’s median household income is just over this number. Under the current provisions of the ACA, families considered middle class are not eligible for subsidies or discounts. Biden’s new plan will remove the income cap and reduce the cost of healthcare coverage to 8.5 percent of income. This means middle class families who are struggling financially would be able to qualify for reduced rates and save about $750 on health insurance per month.
Banning Discrimination in the Healthcare System
Biden promises to ban discrimination and defend healthcare protections for all people no matter their race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The expansions of the ACA greatly benefit communities of color who are low to middle income or have pre-existing conditions as it guarantees them healthcare coverage.
Biden promises to extend all rights to the LGTBQ+ community and ban insurance companies from discriminating based on someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation. Prior to the ACA, health insurance companies often denied coverage, excluded services, and charged higher rates based on someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
The ACA also defends the disabled community by pushing health companies to provide accessible services and auxiliary aids to those with hearing, visual, or speech disabilities.