Oral arguments were recently made at the Supreme Court for and against the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Opponents of the act do not believe the federal government has the authority to mandate the purchase of health insurance under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.
Conversely, proponents believe the act will adequately live up to its intended purposes: extending health care to uninsured individuals at an affordable price, reduce the cost of health insurance, and prevent insurers from denying coverage to consumers with pre-existing medical conditions.
Like most legislation, there will be presumed winners and losers. Some people will save money and others will pay. The presumed winners are more than 30 million uninsured Americans who will now have access to more affordable health care. The presumed losers are the big companies and higher income individuals who will see increased taxes and greater out-of-pocket spending for health care to pick up the slack of lower income individuals and families.
Nonetheless, we will all be affected by Obamacare in at least two ways – the government’s power will be expanded and employers might engage in health discrimination. If Obamacare is held constitutional it will be another way of the government telling us what we can and cannot do.
The act will reduce some of the freedom individuals have when choosing their health care provider. Some argue that the government should not forcibly burden all Americans with the health costs stemming from health risks of preventable conditions and habits such as obesity and smoking.
Health discrimination may also increase. This means that employers may have the right to investigate prospective employees’ pre-existing health conditions before hiring them. Imagine being denied employment because an employer found out that you have Type II Diabetes or because you have an autistic son? Let’s hope that does not become a reality.
As we wait for the Supreme Court’s final decision, we should realize that mandatory health care will affect us all. Only time will tell.
Christopher Ivory is a first-year law student.