The Affordable Care Act was designed as build-on to the existing health care system, filling in the gaps left by Medicare and Medicaid. “It’s a complex and somewhat ugly patch on a complex and somewhat ugly system,” noted Princeton University’s Uwe Reinhardt regarding the health care reform.
Republicans described the reform as a turn to socialized medicine — one that will make health care more unaffordable. Comparatively, Democrats have heralded the Affordable Care Act as the beginning of a new era. The law is neither as ambitious as Democrats had hoped, nor is it as disastrous as Republicans have argued. The reform — known popularly as Obamacare — will have different effects depending on an individual’s personal characteristics — such as income or health — and on where they live.
Obamacare will raise health care costs for some Americans and lower them for others. States that chose to expand Medicaid will see a great expansion of coverage, but 44 million Americans are still expected to remain uninsured next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It is hard to tell how system will change over the long-term, and the four-day period the insurance exchanges — the health care reform’s cornerstone provision — have been open has been too short to make an indictment of the system or to call the reform a success.