The government shutdown has come to pass, as the GOP has tried to force the Senate and President Obama to defund Obamacare. The Senate sent the House a clean appropriations bill that with a 10-minute vote would have ended the shutdown and provided six weeks to negotiate. Instead, House Republicans first sent the Senate a bill calling for many elements of the Mitt Romney agenda that Americans voted against in last year's elections. A second House bill funded the government, but defunded Obamacare. This is a losing proposition for Republicans, as the Department of Health and Human Services has its funding and health insurance exchanges are now live. Polls show 46% blame Republicans for a government shutdown and only 36% blame the president.
Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the PPACA, ACA — these are all names for the same health care reform policy. The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare as constitutional and it is now the law of the land. Obamacare revises the health care system to protect patients and to cut costs. You gain new protections, ways to save money, and ways to improve your health that you can only take advantage of if you know they exist. Understanding Obamacare will also help you explain it to people you care about. Learn about it and ask yourself, is this worth a government shutdown?
Learning about Obamacare is challenging with the opposition's rampant misinformation campaigns. Get beyond political messaging and the caricature painted. Understand the real law and how it affects you. You may one day experience the effects in a life-or-death situation.
Understand the law as deeply as you want to. Choose your own adventure through this article and the comprehensive resources provided. I suggest this approach:
1. Check pricing and plans on your state exchange. Use the State Health Insurance Exchange Finder. You may find much lower prices than you expect, with better benefits. Exchanges are easy to use and you can call support for help. Skip blog posts and news articles on pricing, just read the real deal right where you can actually buy your insurance.
(If you are confused about what the rest of the law does, that is okay. You don't need to understand radioactive particle physics to use a microwave. You can benefit now, while learning more in the future.)
2. Visit healthcare.gov. Targeted information is presented based on who you are, in question-and-answer format. If you are a woman, small businesses owner, young adult, or a member of many other demographic groups, you'll find focused pages that explain your benefits.
3. Breeze through the short overview videos in list items 1, 2, 3, or 5 below to gain a broad understanding of Obamacare.
4. View the more comprehensive videos. You'll understand the law and why it's important. Choose between President Obama, a health care professor who read the entire law, or Jonathan Gruber, who wrote both Romneycare and the Affordable Care Act.
5. Check for updates on this article. I'll post results and new information as it becomes available.
Fundamentally, this is about both your health and your money. The well-organized Obamacare opposition is trying to scare you into voting for them and getting your money (it's no coincidence that every right-wing organization fighting Obamacare has a fundraising website with a "donate" button).The stakes are high: Either you understand Obamacare, or you will be manipulated. When you understand how millions will gain health insurance access, prices will be slashed systemwide, and every insurance plan will become more secure, your fears will dissipate.
Regardless of political affiliation, don't skip Mitt Romney's explanations. Romney pioneered many elements of Obamacare and through his first run for president was an excellent promoter of nationalizing key parts of Romneycare. His soundbytes explain things expertly. You can watch him promote the individual mandate, subsidized insurance, and the exchanges on national TV, explaining why they are essential solutions to the health care crisis.
The deeper you go into this article the more skilled you will become at helping your friends and family make informed health care choices and helping them save money. So please, help end the confusion and fear of others. Share this article on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social outlet. Post individual videos or webpages that resonate with you the most. Choose your own adventure towards reaching an understanding of this law — and equally important, help your loved ones do the same.
1. Animated Overview: A Walk-Through Of How People Are Covered and Your Interaction With Obamacare
2. Animated Overview: A Complete Yet Simple Explanation of Obamacare
The health care system in the U.S. has barely been reformed over the last century. The system as it exists was structured before personal computers and the internet even existed. Thus, many solutions in the Affordable Care Act were low-hanging fruit. The lack of reform over time is why there were so many changes to be made.
3. Overview: President Obama Explains the Affordable Care Act in Four Minutes
Mythbuster!!! In this video, President Obama mentions a government-run public option that never became law. The forces opposed to the health care law often like to pretend a government-run option exists as a method for exciting people against it.
Insurance companies held monopolies in many states, which allowed them to ramp up prices. The public option would have competed with these insurance companies to lower prices. Instead, insurance exchanges will offer six to 12 private companies in order to break the monopolies and generate competition to drive down costs.
4. Best Explanation: President Obama's September 26 Address On the Affordable Care Act
President Obama masters the explanation of the Affordable Care Act in this speech. You can understand the law, the politics, and the results in one video. The president even explains how he felt as his mother's insurance was dropped when she got sick. He watched her battle with insurance company lawyers instead of battling her disease. Seeing her die motivated him to stand up and reform health care even though it was a gigantic political risk.
5. Overview: Dr. Arkoosh Gives a Plain English, 4-Minute Overview Of Obamacare to Her Community
Dr. Arkoosh is President of the National Physicians Alliance. She is particularly excellent at explaining the Affordable Care Act's new benefits for women.
6. Visit Healthcare.gov, and Navigate to Learn the Details
Job creation is a major part of this law. Skyrocketing health care costs were like a ball and chain around the leg of every American business before the Affordable Care Act. Most businesses already provide health insurance, but the cost-cutting measures in the ACA will make American business more competitive over time. Click to view all info regarding Obamacare and small businesses.
Businesses with 25 or fewer employees are the fastest job creators. They get a 50% tax credit towards insurance they may already provide. For example, a business that spends $70,000 on insurance may receive a $35,000 tax credit. This leaves money in the pocket to cover more people, hire more employees, or give you a pay raise. Read about the tax credits here.
Women were being charged 150% of what men were for health insurance prior to Obamacare. That is now illegal and women must be charged equally. Also, maternity care, breast pumps, contraception, and many other women's health needs are now covered. Every single woman should be standing up for The Affordable Care Act. It benefits women more than any other group. Being a woman is no longer considered a pre-existing condition. Read more about women's benefits.
The Patient's Bill of Rights is a key component of the law. It means if you get sick, your insurance can't randomly drop you. If you have a pre-existing condition, you can still get insurance and pay what others do rather than a hugely expensive, unaffordable price tag. Read more.
If you are aged 26 or under, you may still remain on your parents' insurance plan. Read more.
Healthcare.gov also focuses on explaining insurance exchanges, helping you find your exchange, and explaining subsidy assistance for those who can't afford insurance.
7. Overview: Health Insurance Exchanges Explained in Plain English.
Health insurance exchanges were originally created by the founder of Staples at the request of Mitt Romney. This tool allows you to compare health care plans side-by-side, with the language explained, and the prices and coverage levels right next to each other. This compares to buying office supplies at staples.com or TVs on BestBuy.com.
The goal is to show you all the pricing up front, for all available plans in your state, so you can choose the best coverage you can afford. States have the option to implement their own exchanges, and many did.
8. Mitt Romney Explains How the Individual Mandate Ends Socialism and Resolves the Health Care Crisis in a Market Friendly Way
Romneycare led to 98% of the Massachusetts population being insured, which is the closest to universal coverage that any state has in America. President Obama hired Jonathon Gruber (Romneycare's author) to revise the plan for national launch. Old videos of Romney are excellent at explaining many parts of Obamacare.
Romney explains how the individual mandate he pioneered reduces socialism, is market friendly, and needed to go national. He explains why subsidizing those who can't afford insurance is cheaper than paying their unpaid emergency room bills. He also explains how insurance marketplaces increase competition and lower costs.
View Romney's explanations here. Videos are from when Romney passed Romneycare and ran for president to nationalize it.
9. Meet Jonathan Gruber: Lead Consultant For Both Romneycare and Obamacare
Jonathan Gruber was the architect of the Affordable Care Act. Gruber clearly explains what the Obama administration did and why as he answers the audience's most pressing questions. He explains pilot programs launched in various states that are working on lowering costs even faster.
Gruber was the first person thanked by Mitt Romney after the Romneycare passed. President Obama then hired Gruber to write Obamacare. The information in this longer presentation is as good as it gets.
Check out his book on Amazon, Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It's Necessary, How it Works.
10. Meet Dr. Amer Kaissi, a Professor Who Mastered Obamacare
Dr. Kaissi is amazing at explaining the overall health care crisis that the Affordable Care Act addresses and how. His presentation is lucid, concise, and apolitical. The presentation is entertaining and much easier than reading the law (as he points out), which he has read cover-to-cover.
11. Bill Clinton and President Obama Explain Obamacare
President Clinton, "The Explainer in Chief," provides another excellent comprehensive explanation of the law. Watch that here.
12. The polls explained: Conservatives think it went too far, liberals don't think it went far enough.
Most polling shows that some conservatives think the law went too far, while liberals who want a government-run, single-payer option are angry because there is no government takeover of health care.
There is no government-run health plan in Obamacare. Insurance exchanges help you shop for private insurance plans.
A CNN/ORC poll from Sept 27-29 shows 38% favor the law, 37% oppose saying it is too liberal, and 11% say it is not liberal enough.
Polling also reveals that the most popular elements of Obamacare are the least understood. This proves there has been a complete Democratic messaging failure. (View polling here.)
When pollsters describe Obamacare piece-by-piece, respondents like nearly every part. This points to a law that would be popular if people were properly informed. When asked, "Do you like the tax credits for small businesses,?" people answer yes. When told, "The law makes it illegal for insurance companies to drop you when you get sick," they like it. (You'll notice Republicans refuse to discuss any element of the law except the least popular. They live by their polling.)
When pollsters use the law's name, respondents say they oppose it, which points to Republicans' success in maligning the overall law. The most surprising CNBC poll showed that though they are the same thing, more people oppose Obamacare (46%) than the Affordable Care Act (37%).
Bottom line: Though most don't understand it, some love it, and some hate it, most people want to give the law a chance and see what happens.
13. Republicans and Democrats Crafted This Together: Watch the Bipartisan Commissions As They Wrote the Law
Neither side got everything they wanted. That's how compromise works. Watch this video and see hours and hours of this bipartisan committee's ideas being included in the law.
14. The Results Of Health Care Reform Are Already Surprising Experts
Results are beginning to come in. California has published the rates for its exchanges. The state, which has over one-tenth of the U.S. population, was stunned because the plans came in far under the price anyone expected. View all the published pricing for California here.
Seven other states that announced insurance pricing early saw prices plummet. Two insurance companies in Oregon even asked for a do-over because they had priced their plans too high and when they saw their competitors up close, they knew they had to drop prices or lose all the business.
Liberal Paul Krugman is excited by the results he sees and said, "the real Obamacare shock will be one of unexpected success." Read his article here. Conservative media will tell you that it has already destroyed freedom, jobs, the health care system, and is the worst law in the history of mankind.
So, choose your own adventure.
Want to continue in fear? I've captured all those fears in my satire piece here.
Want to wait and see what happens? During that time, view more videos, share individual videos from this article that you like best, and share the entire article to help others understand what the benefits the health care law provides.
You may also continue to gain a better understanding of the Affordable Care Act at healthcare.gov.
Interact and ask questions on the healthcare.gov Facebook page.
And the bottom line: Jump on your state exchange. No publications will be as accurate as the actual prices on your exchange. Use the Exchange Finder.
Key results will be published here as they return:
View premiums on a state-by-state map here as they become available.
Results for premium prices in 39 states are already published on page 7 of this report.
View the Obamacare Facts Facebook Page for continuous information.