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Affordable Care Act, Health Spending and Life Expectancy

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Intae Choi
October 28, 2022

The Affordable Care Act, which is also called the ACA has been a bone of contention for quite a long time. This is because public opinion on the program is strongly influenced by the media. People are continuously exposed to media which favors their side, especially when it comes to political perspectives. People who are likely to watch television channels or newspapers which reflect their standpoints are also folks who subscribe to that same media channel consistently. In other words, the public is inclined to regard a certain media’s opinion statements as factual because of the media’s influence on their perception. The following are some of the main controversial points of the ACA.

The health spending aspect is the most challenging part of the ACA’s survival and continuation. Opponents of the ACA can attack the usefulness and effectiveness of the ACA by saying that this program undermines the government’s budget as well as increases health spending. Health spending refers to spending on goods and services associated with health care. It includes personal health care as well as collective health service. Since the United States actually has high health expenditures among OECD nations, opponents of the ACA are fiercely against implementation of the program. Besides, specific media aligned with a certain political perspective produces negative news asymmetrically. That is, the media opposed to the ACA produces negative news focused on how the ACA will cause negatively impact health spending. Some people exposed to this negative information may perceive the ACA to be more detrimental than it actually is.

However, we should also consider that the ACA can alleviate health expenditure in the United States. The ACA’s major purpose is to expand health coverage to all people in the United States. If people can have health insurance through the ACA, they are able to visit hospitals whenever they want, even if they are only suffering from a minor injury. It makes people not want to neglect their health conditions until their current diseases or injuries worsen to fatal condition—which then entails a huge amount of additional health care spending. From the perspective of preventive health care, this significantly mitigates health expenditure.

In addition, the United States’ life expectancy remains relatively low compared to OECD nations, despite the fact that the United States has the most advanced medical treatment methods, state-of-the-art medical facilities and instruments and higher qualified medical personnel than any other nation in the world. The reason is that a number of patients in the United States are not treated promptly because of high health costs. Advanced medical treatments in the United States are exclusive to the groups who can afford high health insurance premiums and enormous medical costs. Meanwhile, many people are dying because they cannot pay for healthcare services and goods. A significant number of people can extend their lives when their diseases or injuries can be treated promptly. This then increases the rank of life expectancy in the United States.

Moreover, there should be more public hospitals which cover ACA health insurance. These public hospitals can attract patients with a reasonable hospital price. If more public hospitals enter the health market, current preposterous hospital costs would be corrected to reasonable prices.

Author: Intae Choi is a doctoral student at the University of Missouri. Email: [email protected]

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