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Crashing the health care house party

By Jennifer SifferlenSpecial to the Chronicle

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly known as ObamaCare, is one of the most controversial pieces of legislature the United States has seen in years. Disapproval of the act has caused House Republicans to link repeals and delays of ObamaCare to the federal budget, shutting down the government until a deal can be made.

This discord does not just plague Washington. The American people are just as torn: A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 38% of Americans approve of Obama’s health care plan, while 43% are against.

That gap between the yays and nays is not just small, it’s closing. Four percent of Americans are for the bill that were against it a few months ago, according to that same poll given in July. People are starting to warm up to the new policy--likely because they are just now beginning to understand what it means for them.

Obama and his administration have failed to clearly explain the PPACA to the American people. This lack of understanding was clear in a segment of the Jimmy Kimmel Live television show where passersby were asked which healthcare initiative they preferred: The Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare.

Kimmel’s interviewees all preferred the Affordable Care Act to the very same piece of legislature referred to by its nickname. Similarly, differences between those in favor of the PPACA and those in favor of Obamacare in another poll taken by NBC and the Wall Street Journal reflect the same confusion.

This widespread lack of understanding has led to complaints about the act that are not based in reality.

For example, a participant in Kimmel’s interview called the act “un-American,” concerned that established healthcare plans will be limited. “What if they want more coverage?” he said.

But the PPACA does not limit the healthcare plans of those already adequately insured. If healthcare is a house party, ObamaCare is the doorman, requiring those who did not “BYOB” to pay to drink from the keg. But ObamaCare does not stop people from bringing their own health care plan, or drinks, to the party. In fact, many Americans will not see much change due to the act.

The PPACA boils down to three main effects. The first and most controversial requires all Americans to have some form of health insurance, or else pay a tax fee. The second is an extension of Medicare and Medicaid, as well as tax credits for those in need that do not apply to these programs. And the third effect is a series of regulations on employers and health insurance companies designed to protect the coverage of the insured.

One regulation in particular will impact young people in a big way. The act requires insurance plans that include family coverage to keep children on their parents’ healthcare until the age of 26.

“Many parents and their children who worried about losing health insurance after they graduated from college no longer have to worry.” said the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services on their website.

Seniors do not have to fear being dropped off their plan immediately after graduating from Hofstra. Now there is room to breathe.

ObamaCare is far from a perfect solution to the healthcare problem. Recently apparent and crippling malfunctions of the Healthcare.gov website are only one of many informed complaints on the issue. But whether for, against, or somewhere in between, one must understand what the Affordable Care Act does and how it will affect the nation before making a decision.

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