Most everyone has heard the phrase, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” a phrase referencing the fact that everything has a cost and if you’re not paying for it, someone else is. In the US today, the largest age group in our population is comprised of Baby Boomers (people born between 1946 & 1964) and that group is putting a significant strain on our healthcare system just because of the number of people and median age in this category.
That strain, in combination with the current economic climate and Medicare’s general lack of resources has produced a recipe for disaster. If the government wishes to provide healthcare to a growing number of people with increasingly limited resources, the government will have to cut back on healthcare costs elsewhere, which will likely compromise the quality of healthcare offered and/or the number of people subsidized healthcare is offered to. This post isn’t meant to be a sob story – there are a ton of technologies, both current and in-development, capable of picking up some of the slack. The real question is, are we willing to pay the price?
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The federal government will be allowed to tax people for failure to have health insurance. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty is unconstitutional under the commerce clause but allowable under a taxing clause.
The landmark decisions end two years of legal uncertainty and vigorous barbecue and cocktail party debates. The decision has wide-ranging implications that are yet to be fully understood.
“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the ruling.
The 26 states that opposed it said that while Congress has the authority to regulate interstate commerce, it doesn’t have the power to require people to buy a product.
One area of the law that did see a significant restrict ion was the portion of the law relative to the expansion of Medicaid, the government health-insurance program for low-income and sick people. The ruling gives states some flexibility not to expand their Medicaid programs, without paying the same financial penalties that the law called for.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the law will cost the government about $938 billion over 10 years. The CBO has also estimated that it will reduce the federal deficit by $138 billion over a decade.
It is unlikely this will be the last we have heard of it. Our politicians will still have more to say. And barbecues and cocktail parties will not be left bereft of conversation this summer.
What do you think?
Tags: affordable care act, healthcare, healthcare reform, medicare, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Supreme court, what do you think about