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The American healthcare system can be traced back a long way and back in the 1930’s the public were all access to healthcare for all. What made people wary then still makes people wary today – who pays for it?

Healthcare policy is an in-depth subject, one that cannot possibly be covered in one article. That’s how it is for the governments who are tasked with the responsibility of bringing about reforms to the public healthcare system and, for as long as we can go back in history, no matter what reforms the governments bring about, there is always backlash from somewhere.

The Post-Depression era saw the elderly, veterans and workers group pushing for national health insurance. Unfortunately they were up against strong opposition from the American Medical Association. Insurance companies also lobbied against the NHI and the Act did not get passed at that time.

The end of World War II saw America miss out on a chance to bring about changes to their healthcare system.  European reform was far easier because they did not have the network of private healthcare providers that existed in the US and many European countries took the opportunity to bring out a National Healthcare system for their citizens.  The US went in an alternative direction. Read More

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Healthcare policies are not particular easy to develop but someone has to do it and that someone is the United States government.  President Obama signed a new Act into law in March of 2010. It was called The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, although it is more commonly known as Obamacare.

The ideas behind this new policy weren’t dreamed up in a day, they are the result of years of ideas and planning.  But, just because the policy was developed so meticulously, does that automatically mean it will benefit everyone?

Let’s take a closer look at exactly what Obamacare is:

  • The Affordable Care Act is made up of more than one thousand pages of insurance and health care industry reforms.  The idea behind it was to help fight the tide of the rising cost of healthcare and to provide health insurance that was affordable to all
  • Before Obamacare was passed it was possible for treatment to be refused or for insurance coverage to be denied just because you had suffered an illness in the past.
  • You would be charged more for being female, be thrown out of a treatment plan half way through because you didn’t dot an i or cross a t. Under Obamacare you get access to all kinds of benefits and protections.
  • By the end of 2013 around 16% of the US population did not have healthcare insurance mostly because they could not afford the annual premiums.  Through Obamacare, health insurance is made available to all via Health Insurance Marketplaces.
  • Obamacare is a reform to Medicare, giving everyone the opportunity to get the same rights, benefits and protections
  • There are subsidies available for those who earn less than a certain percentage of the Federal poverty level – currently 400% – and to small businesses with under 25 full time members of staff who earn below $25000 per year.
  • By 2015 large businesses will be required by law to provide some form of health cover to all of their employees.
  • By 2014 nearly all Americans will be required to have healthcare cover – if they don’t, for every month they are not covered, they will have to pay a fee with their end of year federal taxes.

Read More

WebsiteIf you follow up on the news relating to government policy changes, you may have heard the rumour that Uncle Sam is planning to start regulating the sale of Web Properties. To any of us familiar with the internet and federal government intervention, you may not be surprised. Remember SOPA?

A website is like a piece of internet real estate. Some of these websites sell for millions of dollars. It’s therefore not a long shot to find out that our Government is thinking of meddling in this market. For persons that earn their livelihood “site flipping” this may be yet another way for the government to sink their greasy paws into your pockets. For websites like Flippa, a marketplace for selling websites where many site flippers earn their living, this could be detrimental.

The rumour on the street is that persons selling websites over a threshold of 10,000 dollars will have to conduct their transactions via a licensed site broker. A website broker is similar to a real estate agent, in that they facilitate the purchases of web –based businesses by bridging the gap between the buyers and the sellers. They earn based on commission, and can often negotiate better terms for buyers and sellers than generic marketplaces like Flippa.

It is understandable then, that the government will want to look out for the best interest of consumers by requiring that all persons selling websites over 10,000 be licensed to do so. This will force persons to have to use a licensed broker for those transactions. If not, then banks will be forced to check and then report to the IRS any transactions over 10,000 USD. If it is found that a website transaction was not conducted by a licensed brokerage, then both parties will be liable to fines and possible jail time (unconfirmed).

Following the FATCA policy, it is not surprising that the government further wants to meddle in the finances of US citizens conducting business.

All persons wishing to conduct business as a website broker may have to sit a state administered licensing test and then pay several fees in order to be licensed. This is quite an unnecessary hurdle for persons simply wishing to part with their online business.
Individuals who create small websites solely for the purpose of flipping them for small amounts, shouldn’t be affected by this. They will still be able to operate out of markets like Flippa. The marketplace will be reduced significantly, though, and Flippa may lose revenues due the fact that they earn based on commission. While it is possible that they may offer a gateway between newly licensed brokers and customers, they may have to adjust their marketplace quite a bit in order to facilitate this change.

I am quite sure that web brokers will be even more incentivized to start their own standalone businesses because more consumers will be forced to seek their services. Digital Exits is one such example of a stand alone website broker.

As the world we live in becomes more reliant on technology and this vast entity we call the internet, governments are not only concerned with how to protect their citizens, but also on how they can cash in too. I certainly hope that such a policy does not come to pass.

Jailbreak iPhone 4When it comes to cell phones, cell networks and what you can do with your iPhone then the legality surrounding this is often blurred at best.

The federal government has started to take an active interest in curbing the freedom of individuals to modify, alter and change their iPhone. However for the average user who is interested in jailbreaking their iPhone then how this is viewed under the law is not widely known.

In the past few years there has been a marked shift in the policy of the government from a laissez-faire attitude to the cell phone world to one where they are actively getting in involved. However is jailbreaking actually illegal in the US or is this just a scare tactic on behalf of the cell companies?

Finding an iPhone jailbreak from the various online services that offer this facility is easy for the end user and according to the law as is, the act of jailbreaking is technically not illegal the minute. Through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) the process of jailbreaking an iPhone will remain legal until at least 2015 when it is up for review again (somehow jailbreaking an iPad is deemed as being against the law).

The confusion comes when we speak of unlocking. The two things are actually quite different; unlocking an iPhone 4 means you can use the cell phone on any network you please whereas jailbreaking is opening up the source code and allowing you to customize the device itself.

Last year the U.S. Library of Congress ruled that unlocking an iPhone 4 was against the law if the device was bought after January 26th 2013 and while it can still be done legally through cell carries it is illegal for a third party to offer this service if they are based in the USA. In many respects the federal government has went out of its way to curb freelance unlocking services however they have left jailbreaking alone – up until now.

Even though the law isn’t likely to be changed before 2015 there is an active movement in Congress and at a more local level to outlaw jailbreaking entirely. Until now there has been no significant polling on what the public things of this movement however it is likely that jailbreaking would receive widespread support among the iPhone crowd and cell users in general.

So, will we will a major shift in government policy in regards to jailbreaking the iPhone 4, or any other model for that matter?

Certainly there won’t be any change this year meaning that sites like this will still be allowed to promote jailbreaking. If anything it will be 2015 before we see a shift in policy and even then any polls with a small sample size have shown opposition to making jailbreaking illegal. The government, at the minute, have no real desire to make itself any more unpopular than it already is for a lot of people and leaving iPhone jailbreaking alone would be a sensible move.

The law might be on the side of cell phone carriers when it comes to unlocking however as far as jailbreaking goes there is no real desire on the part of the government to change its position even if certain members of Congress and local politicians are actively trying to change the law.

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We think we know what the future holds for health care in the US but perhaps it would help to know how we got there:

2010 – Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act was signed into law.

2003 – Medicare Prescriptions Drug Improvement and Modernization Act was put in place

2002 – The Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness was formed to help co-ordinate the fight against and dealing with emergency health threats and bioterrorism

2001 – Center for Medicare and Center for Medicaid formed

2001 – First Bioterrorism threat detected in US through Anthrax delivery via the mail

2000 – Human Genome Sequencing made public

1999 – Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act signed, helping disabled people to go back to work and no lose Medicare or Medicaid cover

1997 – SCHIP – State Children’s Health Insurance Program created

1996 – HIPPA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act enacted

1995 – Social Security Administration – SSA – is made independent

1993 – Vaccines for Children Program begins

1990 – Human Genome Project begins

1990 – Food labels became authorized under the Nutrition Labelling and Education Act

1990 – Ryan White CARE Act began supporting those with AIDS

1989 – Agency for Health Care Policy and Research was formed

1988 – McKinney Act passed so that homeless people could get access to health care

1984 – The beginning of the National Organ Transplant Act

1981 – Identification of AIDS followed by the licensing of a blood test that detects HIV

1980 – Foster care and adoption assistance finding provided

1979 – Department of Education Organization Act begins

1977 – Medicare and Medicaid now managed separate from the SSA by the Health Care Financing Administration

1977 – Smallpox eradicated

1975 – The establishment of the Child Support Enforcement program

1971 – Signing of the National Cancer Act

1970 – Creation of the National Health Service Corps

1966 – Launch of the Community Health Center and Migrant Health Center programs

1965 – Medicare and Medicaid begins

1964 – The first ever Surgeon General’s report on the effects of smoking on health

1962 – Migrant Health Act becomes law

1961 – First ever White House Conference on Aging

1955 – Salk Polio Vaccine Licenced

1953 – Eisenhower creates Cabinet-Level Department of Health, Education and Welfare

1946 – Establishment of the Communicable Disease Center

1939 – FSA – Federal Security Agency – begins to join together activities in Health, Education and Social Insurance fields

1938 – FFDCA – Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act passed

1935 – Passing of the Social Security Act

1930 – National Institute of Health created

1912 – First White House Conference with President Theodore Roosevelt to talk about creating a Children’s Bureau to protect children from exploitation

1906 – Pure Food and Drugs Act passed

1902 – Marine Hospital Service converted to Public Health and Marine Hospital Service

1891 – Legislation passed giving the Marine Hospital Service responsibility for examining immigrants

1887 – Federal Government opened a one –room Center for Disease Research on Staten Island

1878 – National Quarantine Act passed

1871 – First Supervising Surgeon appointed – later to become known as Surgeon General

1862Charles M Wetherill, a chemist, is appointed by President Lincoln to the Department of Agriculture – this is where the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began

1798 – An Act is passed to provide relief for seamen who are sick and/or disabled. This begins a network of hospitals responsible for the care of merchant seamen

Obviously, there is more to the history of healthcare policy development than this, but these dates signify the most notable points in history, allowing us to trace the origins of many of today’s health departments and to help us understand the length of time it can take for policies to be developed and passed as law.

 

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President Obama has just one job – to serve the American public and to serve them well.  There are many who believe that with Obamacare he has failed.  Recent polls are suggesting that there are less people supporting Obamacare now than they did when it was first announced.

Across the Unites States, people are losing their existing insurance policies, premiums are going through the roof and millions of people who actually want to use the system are finding that they can’t.

While the US health system was already in disarray it seems that many people feel that Obamacare has made things even worse, instead of improving the systems in place.  The following 9 reasons are just some of the current thoughts from the American public about Obamacare:

  1. According to some, Obamacare is a complete failure and many do not want to have anything to do with it.  At the moment, Healthcare.gov is not working properly and people are finding it increasingly difficult to sign up. Indeed, those that are managing to be successful have to spend several hours, if not days on the telephone and on their computers.
  2. The Health Insurance Marketplace was supposed to give people a choice, a wee of comparing prices. In some States that is not happening- people are only being given one insurance provider to choose from
  3. According to some, Obamacare has forced insurance premiums up. In fact, there are some who have found that their premiums are set to double each month.
  4. President Obama promised that those who were happy on their existing health insurance plan could stay on them. That has not been allowed to happen and, across the Country, plans are being cancelled and people forced onto Obamacare plans.
  5. Many employers are now withdrawing company health insurance because of Obamacare.
  6. Many people are losing their jobs because of Obamacare – just recently a large number of Doctors in Connecticut were fired by United Healthcare. These were mostly doctors who were caring for patients on Medicare Advantage which is a plan for seniors.
  7. The website that people are supposed to use to register on, that doesn’t work, cost more than $93 million to build
  8. While some believe that they have registered successfully in Obamacare, in actual fact, they haven’t. Data is not being transmitted from the system to the insurance companies.
  9. Obamacare is a very complicated system, with the regulations being more than a million words in length! The problem seems to be that the data is being transmitted, then pulled back, transmitted and then pulled back again. Some insurance companies have actually gotten to the stage where they are not sure if the enrolments they are receiving are even real.

So, what are the chances of Obamacare disappearing quietly into a pile of paper? None, not right now anyway.  While Barack Obama still holds the Presidency, Obamacare will continue to roll and there will be no major changes to it either.

There is a high percentage of the American public that now believes that Obamacare and, by association, the Presidential administration, is the health care system of the United States of America.

How true that is really remains to be seen as it is something that only time can tell. However, the whole system has not gotten off to a good start and people are bow being told that they have until the end of March this year to enrol.

Or what?  Well, if they don’t, for every month that they go without insurance, they will be charged a fee on top of their federal taxes………..

aca_obamacare_enrollment_rtr_img_0Obamacare is here to stay whether the American public likes it or not. President Obama introduced the Affordable Care act in 2010 and 2014 is the year it all begins to take shape.

Or so the Obama Administration would have you believe anyway. The polls, perhaps, tell another story. Fox News has been carrying out regular polls over the last couple of years and the new figures from the latest one are in.

According the figures, the number of those who support the 2010 Affordable Care Act has reduced and those who are against has gone up significantly. As well as that, the vast majority of those who responded to the poll believe that their health insurance costs will spiral out of control with the absolute minority believing that this Act will improve the level and the quality of their health care.

The latest poll found that 59% of those who voted were dead against the Affordable Care Act – that’s an increase of 4% from the 55% who said the same thing 6 months ago.This increase is a pretty even mix of Democratic voters and Independent voters.

Around 30% of Democratic voters are opposed to the act – that number stood at 22% 6 months ago. Opposition from the Independent voters jumped from 53% in June 2013 to 64% now. In total around 36% of those who voted showed support for the Affordable Care Act which is a reduction from 40% in June 2013.

That is split as follows: 64% Democratic voters, 29% Independent voters and 11% of Republican voters stand in favour of Obamacare.

Enrolment opened on October 1s 2013 with a requirement for cover to be in place by January 1st 2014. Enrolment closes on 32st March and, for those who have not enrolled and do not have any form of health insurance, a fee will be charged for every month the go without. That fee is payable on top of their end of year Federal tax return.

When asked about their reasons for opposing the Affordable Care Act, 62% of voters said that they firmly believed their insurance premiums would go up by a significant amount. 63% believed that their taxes would rise and 56% believe that the Federal deficit will be increased.

19% of voters however believe that they will see an increase in the level and the quality of their health care. 39% believe the opposite; they feel it will get worse while 37% believe that it will remain exactly as it is.

So by a margin of 44% to 36% overall voters are of the opinion that health care will go be reduced instead of increased as promised and they believe that this will affect American citizens across the board.

By a margin of 59% to 38%, the overall vote is for disapproval of the way President Obama has handled he subject of health care. In fact, the highest rating he received was back in 2012 when he managed to reap a 48% approval rating and his lowest was 36% in November last year.

Some of the more prominent lawmakers in the country are now beginning to ask how secure the health care exchanges are and are raising the subject of the probability of identity theft. 60% of voters have no confidence in the health care website to keep their personal information safe. 37% are relatively confident while just 9% believe their information will be secure.

The Fox polls are carried out using telephone calls on both fixed and cell phone lines and are a random sample of 1,010 registered voters across the whole country.