Health Care & Election 2012: A Collegiette's Guide

According to Her Campus’s recent election survey, almost 20 percent of collegiettes see health care as the most important issue our country faces right now. It’s a major topic, as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—nicknamed “Obamacare”—just became law in March of 2010 under Obama’s presidency. Many of the changes this law implements won’t unfurl until 2014, so it’s a change in progress. You can read “A Collegiette’s Guide to Health care” to learn more about how this new law is revolutionizing the health care system. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is on the line in the 2012 election, so it’s important to know where you stand on health care! Check out our breakdowns of the Republican and Democrat candidates’ stances on this issue:

The Obama-Biden Platform

When it comes to health care, the Obama platform is basically a resounding “keep doing what we’re doing.” The president only managed to get his controversial legislation enacted after years of fighting Congress (mainly the currently Republican-dominated House of Representatives) and a significant chunk of the American population. Now that the Affordable Care Act—Obama’s landmark health care law that is bringing a lot of changes over the next several years—is set to unfurl, Obama is able to show rather than tell his beliefs about the health care system and where it should be headed.

Already regulations are in effect that prevent insurance companies from setting limits on the amount they can spend on you in your lifetime (“lifetime limits”) and from denying coverage to individuals because they have a pre-existing condition such as asthma or diabetes. By Election Day, health care plans will be offering services such as screenings for blood pressure and cholesterol, HIV and other STD screenings and counseling services, mammograms, and even contraception—all at no extra cost to you. A College of William & Mary senior says, “I'm really happy about Obama's health care plan because of its concern for women and the poor, of which I am both. I've already seen at least one change: my birth control pills became free this month when my health insurance renewed.”

Obamacare also allows individuals to stay on their parents’ health care plans until age 26. This is a big deal for college students and recent grads, who no longer have to worry about finding and paying for their own health insurance immediately following graduation. There’s now a buffer zone for us to get a job, get settled into our post-college lives, and take care of other necessities first. Once 26, however, all Americans are required to obtain health insurance. The ACA requires states to develop so-called Affordable Insurance Exchanges, systems in which insurance companies compete for your business and through which individuals can select the most thorough and affordable plans for themselves. If you fail to purchase insurance for yourself, you run the risk of paying a penalty, which increases steadily over the years (it starts at $95 in 2014, and by 2016 is $750). This is the individual mandate that was recently ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court. This has remained the most controversial component of Obamacare, because it is a tax, a tax that will raise $17 billion for the Treasury by 2019. According to this ReutersTV spot, because Obamacare is funded by “cuts in scheduled spending increases and new taxes”, which the Congressional budget office predicts will reduce the federal deficit by $118 billion over 10 years if enacted.

A Chicago native, Elizabeth is going into her senior year at the College of William & Mary, where she is majoring in Psychology and Literary & Cultural Studies. Last year she circumnavigated the globe and visited 12 developing nations with a study abroad program called Semester at Sea, honing her travel writing skills and chasing her dream of someday working abroad. Currently she is the Editor-in-Chief of the literary magazine Winged Nation and the Philanthropy Chair of her beloved music sorority, Nu Kappa Epsilon. When she's not writing her butt off for class or for pleasure, she can usually be found practicing harp, watching Community, or hanging out with her Phi Sigma Pi brothers.

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