The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, otherwise known as “Obamacare,” is destined to be one of the most controversial legislative acts of the 21st century. It is both a symbol of compassion and good intentions, as well as a monument to the complexity of a modern society with conflicting goals and philosophies.
Supporters claim that it can lead to affordable healthcare for all Americans for the first time in the nation’s history, while detractors believe it may destroy the national healthcare system and bankrupt the country. What is the truth?
Brief History of the ACA
American presidents and congresses have wrestled with the paradox that is our healthcare system since the end of World War II. As a result of World War II wage controls, the system has evolved into one of the country’s largest industries, employing almost 17 million workers in more than 784,000 healthcare companies, including over 6,500 hospitals, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2020, healthcare costs will consume 20% of the nation’s GDP.
By the turn of the century, business leaders, politicians, and citizens recognized that the existing healthcare system was not sustainable and, if left unchecked, would ultimately bankrupt the country. Its high costs reduce American competitiveness in world markets, limit wage and salary increases to workers, and force many to forgo health insurance altogether. Everyone agreed that the system was broken – but how best to fix it?