Why the Affordable Care Act Matters

“We need to repeal and replace” “Obamacare is care is destroying the health care system” “The United States is a federalist country! States should have more control over health care!” 

With all the sound bites floating around the news about the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, it can be hard to distinguish what the ACA actually entails and why it is such a controversial piece of legislation. Although it would be impossible to explain the ACA in its entirety in a single page article, as college students, that's really all we have time to read. Here is your beginners guide to the ACA and what you can do to save it.

Why is the ACA Important to Me?

Some young people believe that because they are healthy health insurance legislation does not directly affect them. Even though we are young and healthy there are still some components to the ACA that make it beneficial to college students.

1.  The ACA allows young people to stay on their parents' insurance until they are 26. Before the ACA, young adults would oftentimes have to be unmarried and taking college classes in order to remain covered under their parent's health insurance. Thanks to the ACA young adults can remain on their parents' health insurance even if they are married or not in college. Imagine how stressful it would be to find a job with good health insurance right after you graduate. Thanks to the ACA we don’t have to do that.

Image via Pixabay

2.  The ACA allows for free birth control. Under the ACA insurance plans are required to cover birth control such as the pill, IUDs, and Plan B. Male birth control, such as condoms, and abortion services are not covered, but this still allows for women of every income to control their bodies.

Image via Pixabay

3.  Coverage for preexisting conditions. One of the most important parts of the ACA is that it makes it illegal for insurance companies to reject or impose higher prices on people with pre-existing conditions. In case you were wondering, pregnancy, cancer, mental illnesses, and even acne, can all be considered preexisting conditions. The ACA has made it possible for these people to get the healthcare they deserve.

Image via Pixabay

So why do politicians want it repealed? Well one problem with the ACA has been rising premiums, meaning people are paying more than they thought they would for health insurance. This is mainly because not enough young healthy people have bought health insurance. Since the system is mainly being used by the elderly and people with preexisting conditions, it is more expensive as more people need the health care than are paying into the system. If more young people signed up for ACA then these premium costs could drop substantially. Obviously, the ACA has more problems than that, however it would be easier if Democrats and Republicans worked together to fix the ACA if they repeal and replace it.  

Image via Pixabay

What is happening with the ACA right now?

Currently the ACA is in great danger. One of President Trump’s top priorities since taking office has been to repeal and replace the ACA. The Republicans in congress have drawn up several replacements so far, but they all have failed. However, they have recently developed a new plan, the Graham-Cassidy bill. This bill would wreak havoc on women’s health care by allowing insurers not to cover birth control, not allowing Medicaid participants to use their benefits at Planned Parenthood, and by allowing states to choose which preexisting conditions are covered. This would be disastrous, especially for low income women who could lose access to birth control and women’s healthcare. 

What can I do?

The most important thing that we young voters can do is call our representatives! The senators in Pennsylvania are Bob Casey, who is a democrat that supports the ACA and Pat Toomey who is a Republican that does not. Pat Toomey’s D.C office number is (202) 224-4254. When calling Pat Toomey tell him that you are a resident of Gettysburg, not a college student. Oftentimes politicians don’t take college students seriously as they are “non-local liberals”. This bill has to be passed by September 30th, because by then Republican senators will need 60 votes to pass health care bills. This means that we need to act fast. If we don’t, everyone, but especially women, will suffer the consequences.