Help Understanding The Affordable Care Act: The Health Care Reform Law

October 21st, 2010

I’ve had to put myself on a “news diet” of late. With all of the election shenanigans; The ‘he said she said’ and the flurry of accusations going back and forth between candidates and political parties, I was growing increasingly vocal and somewhat hostile towards my TV.

Print news provided me no comfort either. My most recent tantrum came after I read a news report that some 20 states had filed a lawsuit against the Federal Government in order to have the new health care law repealed. The chief complaint is that the mandate forcing people buy health insurance or be fined is unconstitutional and the entire law should be repealed-despite the fact that millions of Americans stand to benefit from the new health care law.  Some legal scholars have intimated that the entire law could be struck down if this mandate issue is found unconstitutional.  Others believe that the mandate portion of the law would be removed and the other parts of the law would remain. As for this particular case being argued in Florida, we won’t have any more answers until December.

What I have found most frustrating about the new health care law is its design. Could the drafters of the law have made it any more complicated? And what is up with all the sequential benefits? Why not just draw up the law and once it’s signed, all parts of it go into effect? As written, parts of the law won’t go into effect for another 3-4 years. And with the national contention, it could happen that parts of the law never become enacted at all!

I think that the much of the contention-at least as it related to the average citizen-is the fact that it’s really hard to know just what the health care law will mean to the individual. Yes, websites have been erected and the US Department of Health and Human Services swears it will be ever present to answer questions and to guide citizens through the transition and to answer specific questions.

But what if you don’t know what you don’t know?

The actual law is nearly 1000 pages long. Will the average American citizen take the time to access the law (either in print or on the web) and then actually read it? I’ve taken a look at the law and its written with so much legal jargon that it really is kind of difficult to understand. So how are we as consumers to know to what we are entitled? How are any of us to get a clear understanding of the law and what it entails so that we can make informed health care decisions?

Thankfully, there are many individuals and organizations that have taken the initiative to educate the public about the new health care law,  The Affordable Care Act. Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, wrote an informative and insightful editorial on The Huffington Post about the new health care law means for women. had a blog carnival in September where they posted blogs written by a variety of writers (mamasonbedrest included!) outlining what the new health care law means for US citizen.

Despite being one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in American History,  The Affordable Care Act will usher in a new era of health care in the United States. Many Americans, especially women, stand to greatly benefit from many of its provisions and protections. It’s a tough law to read in its entirety, but it can be done. Yet if the prospect of reading such a cumbersome legal document completely overwhelms you, take a look at some of these blog posts, as well as some of the dissenting blogs and really learn what the law is all about.

Don’t take anyone’s word at face value. Take the time to learn what the law means for you and then decide if you are for it or against it.

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