The Case for Free Clinics in the Obamacare World
Natasha Kulick ’14
With more than three years of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) under our belts, many are beginning to feel the gradual changes brought on by the healthcare law package that is set to be in full effect by March of 2020. Liberal proponents of the law believe that it will improve many aspects of the current healthcare system. For example, the law will eliminate the “Lifetime Cap” that insurance companies can place on peoples’ plans in January of 2014. This change, along with many others, has drawn criticism from Conservative opponents who believe that increasing taxes to eliminate “Lifetime Caps” is foolish. Conservative insurance executive Paul Zane Pilzer said in a 2010 interview, “I am troubled by the potential cost of the mandate requiring no lifetime limit on coverage.”
While the elimination of “Lifetime Caps” is a strongly debated portion of the Obamacare law package, the most controversial aspect is the requirement that all U.S. citizens have some sort of insurance through their employers, or private plans offered through the government or independent insurance companies. The objective is to decrease the number of uninsured people residing in the U.S. and reduce the government’s healthcare budget.
However, even after all provisions of the law are in place in 2020, there will still be an estimated 23 million uninsured residents. This will include undocumented immigrants and citizens that reside in states where governments do not plan to expand their current government-covered insurance.
One hopeful alternative is the expansion of government-supported free clinics. Powered by volunteer medical professionals, community donations and government healthcare funding, free clinics service the needy. Health care would cost less to the government than if an uninsured patient received care at a public hospital. While the government would have to work support of free clinics into the overall healthcare budget, the long-term fiscal benefits would outweigh the initial costs.
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