Obamacare: is it helpful?

With the growing problem of unhealthy Americans, will the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) help cut it down? The main goal of Obamacare is to give more Americans access to affordable health insurance. Under this act you have access to outpatient care, trips to emergency room, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental and drug addiction services, prescription drugs, rehabilitative services, laboratory services, preventative services, and pediatric services. These benefits begin January 1st, 2014.

With everyone able to go to the doctor more cheaper once Obamacare is in full effect you would think that it would be a big step forward towards a healthier America, but is that necessarily true?

There are those who say it will actually have the opposite effect. This is because there are a number of Americans who have been living healthy lives eating a well-rounded diet, exercising regularly and have not been on health care until just recently. Once they join a plan that’s when they take a turn, eating junk food and not exercising as regular as before. This is explained by what economists call the Moral Hazard, which explains that people are willing to take risks when they are kept safe from the cost of their actions. A study done on men who didn’t visit the doctor after receiving insurance showed that the overall physical activity dropped 40%, 16% more likely to smoke cigarettes, and 32% more likely to drink alcohol.

The state of Oregon decided to pick a lottery drawing of 30,000 names from a list of 90,000. If the selected adults met the requirements they could enroll for Medicaid. This newly insured group went to the doctor more frequently and used the preventive health services but studies showed that they had not gotten any healthier. Having health insurance did not improve blood pressure, cholesterol, or how well diabetics controlled their blood sugar. In addition, those on Medicaid did not have a lower risk of having a heart attack.

Although Obamacare does not necessarily mean a healthier America there are benefits. For instance, if you are uninsured it is more likely that you will be diagnosed in a later stage of something such as cancer. Also studies show that if you are on health insurance you are less likely to suffer from depression. Another benefit is that if you are in an accident you will be able to manage the medical bills much more easily than someone who is not insured which may put them in debt.