With the final provisions of the Affordable Care Act scheduled to roll out this year, The Philadelphia Inquirer published a special section on the law, also called "Obamacare," on May 5.
The Inquirer tapped Professor Robert Field to answer questions about state insurance exchanges and other provisions of the complex law. Field explained commonly misunderstood features of the law and responded to questions that individual readers posted online.
On May 2, Field had discussed the Affordable Care Act as a featured guest on Radio Times, a public affairs program on NPR affiliate WHYY.
Program host Marti Moss-Coane interviewed Field and Professor David Grande of Penn Medicine about the Affordable Care Act, which remains enormously controversial according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey.
Critics have successfully discredited aspects of “Obamacare” by using short terms, like “death panels,” Field said, while the administration relies on lengthy explanations of the reforms enacted three years ago.
“I always thought describing it as the ‘Guaranteed Coverage Law’ would make a lot of sense,” Field said. “If he just kept repeating that, it would give people a sense at least of why it was passed.”
Among the biggest misunderstandings Field said, is that the law only affects about 10 percent of the population: those who lack health care insurance and those who must purchase it privately. The law does not affect those covered by an employers’ health insurance policy, he said.
Those already benefiting from the law includes young adults who can remain on their parents’ policies up to age 26 if they cannot get insurance through an employer, and older adults covered by Medicare.
Controversy over the government mandate to acquire insurance is among “the great ironies of political history,” Field said, noting that the late President Richard Nixon had advocated such a requirement before he left office.
“If it hadn’t been for Watergate we might have had it, and it would have been called the Nixon Affordable Care Act,” Field said.