The Affordable Care Act has been called flawed, rushed, unconstitutional (but not by the Supreme Court) and even tyrannical. Since President Barack Obama’s signature legislation was enacted in 2010, Tea Party members have been unyielding in their effort to derail the law’s implementation, even going so far as to shut down the government to avoid funding it. Democrats have complained the law doesn’t go far enough in its attempts to provide care for tens of millions of uninsured Americans. Republicans have called it an unprecedented extension of the federal government’s authority.
But the fact remains: Starting Oct. 1, the Affordable Care Act’s centerpiece became the law.
As of the beginning of the month, not having health insurance is a punishable offense in the eyes of the federal government. That means the thousands of Nebraskans who aren’t covered could face tax penalties of $95 next year, with the figure increasing to around $325 in 2015 and $695 in 2016.
With the host of insurance options now available through healthcare.gov, the continued operation of UNL’s student insurance program, Healthy Option and provisions allowing young adults to stay on a parent’s insurance until age 26, the argument that health care is simply too expensive is no longer convincing.
Especially considering the alternative: fines, fear of becoming sick and possibly unsubsidized medical bills. Any time students are surrounded by thousands of other active people from different places, sitting in classrooms and attending football games alongside students from other states and even countries, the risk of becoming sick is considerably high. Pair that with the added risk of flu season, which is in full swing, and the argument against health insurance right now is null and void.
People may disagree with the notion that it’s the federal government’s job to provide health care for the masses. They might believe health care isn’t a right like life, liberty and property are. And in the case of students, they might not believe health care is affordable, preferring to roll the dice with their health to save money. But now, it seems, the risk of getting sick outweighs the benefits of avoiding health insurance.
Until the law changes, those who don’t buy health insurance will pay a price.