Healthcare’s Marketplace: Open with Errors

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obamacare3Obamacare, or as it is officially known, the Affordable Care Act, has had a rough month. It began the month as the target of House Republicans determined to defund the ACA in exchange for ending the partial government shutdown. At the same time, registration opened October 1 for people who want to buy health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.  It was the much-anticipated public launch of President Obama’s health care initiative. Only its launch was more fizzle than sparkle as website users encountered dozens of technical errors. The faulty website launch reinvigorated Republican critics’ attack against the Affordable Care Act.

Health care is important. After all, we all get colds, accidents happen, diseases develop, and aging bodies require care. Many people agree America’s healthcare system is in need of an overhaul. Millions of Americans are uninsured, and compared to other countries, health insurance in America is expensive. However, changing the health care system is no easy feat. Tough questions are at the heart of the transformation. There are no right answers to these questions but the answers will frame health care’s continuing transformation.obamacare1

The Affordable Care Act is the latest step in America’s struggle with how to provide health insurance. This week, learn about the complicated world of health insurance, who the ACA aims to help, how this new system will work, and what makes the ACA controversial. Hear from both sides of the aisle and decide for yourself whether this is a step forward or two steps back.

obamacare4The History of Healthcare

Healthcare in America has a complicated history. The current system was created in response to a variety of changing national priorities and with input from several groups—national medical organizations, politicians, human resource managers and employees—each with a different agenda. View a timeline of healthcare in America.

American healthcare involves a patchwork of programs: Medicaid and Medicare, HMOs, employee-based insurance, and a vast number of uninsured. The BBC’s Q and A: US healthcare reformexplains how the system has worked and the problems reformers hope to change.obamacare2

The Affordable Care Act became law in 2010. It was the result of bi-partisan negotiations, though many Republicans remain unsatisfied. As the partial shut-down demonstrated, whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act good is for America is still debated among politicians and their constituents. Read about the history of the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Explore the evidence and reasons people on both sides of the question provide to support their position. Read key quotes from both sides of the debate. Explore the top 10 pro and cons of health care reform and consider some little known facts in the health care debate.

How Things Change

Obamacare changes health insurance coverage in the United States because it requires all Americans to have health insurance, either through their employer, the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, or by purchasing it through the new health insurance  Marketplace. How will Obamacare change health insurance for the unemployed, uninsured, retired, college students, or retired? How does it affect price and coverage? What does it mean to you and your family? Several websites break down the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect different Americans.

obamacare6Take a Wall Street Journal tour of what the ACA will mean to Americans on January 1. Watch the short video from USAToday, then follow the links across the top to check out how it applies to different Americans. Discover where you fit in to Obamacare. Next, follow the links—insurance, employers, taxation, Medicare, Medicaid, and initiatives— on the Associated Press interactive to learn more about how and when the law’s provisions will roll-out.

Each state will manage the health care overhaul in its own ways. Examine how each state plans to implement the ACA. Turn to page one of the interactive’s menu to  view how Obamacare will affect four areas of healthcare in your home state. Use the links in the upper left corner to view statistics related to primary care physicians, exchange options, Medicaid options, and cost increases. Compare your state to two others.


Registration for the new program began on October 1 and continues through the end of the year. The Affordable Care Act goes into effect on January 1, 2014. Glitches have plagued the government site designed so that people can purchase marketplace insurance. Still, a visit to the Health Insurance Marketplace is a must. Discover what Marketplace insurance covers. Learn about the Marketplace for individuals and families. Scroll over All Topics along the top margin to see a list of other relevant topics. Take a short survey to find personalized plan information for your area.obamacare7


Newspaper Activities

The issue of how to provide healthcare insurance in America is an on-going issue. So, too is correcting the Marketplace Web site and and using it to buy insurance. Americans have until the end of the year to arrange for insurance. In the coming weeks, follow your local newspaper to monitor this story. Create an editorial cartoon that reflects your views about the Affordable Care Act, mandated insurance, or the insurance Marketplace.

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