Thursday, June 28, 2012

Understanding Health Care Reform

Earlier today, the US Supreme Court made a historic decision, upholding most of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.  Everybody is talking about the Affordable Care Act, but it's a safe bet that not everyone understands it.  One reason is that it's been extremely controversial, so each side has tried to spin it in different directions.  Another reason is that the act itself is nearly a thousand pages long, so it's not something you can read on your lunch break.

To try to cut through the spin and confusion, we've put together some links to resources that explain Obamacare, and today's Supreme Court decision, in a simple, balanced way.

One of the best resources we've found is the video above, which is an entertaining, animated explanation of the basics of the Affordable Care Act.  It comes from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit and non-partisan organization focused on health care policy.  It's good to be aware that this foundation was started by Henry J. Kaiser, who also started Kaiser Permanente, a major health insurance provider.  However, the foundation is a separate organization, and its educational resources are well-made and seem to offer balanced coverage.  They have also created a written overview about health care reform, as well as a variety of graphics explaining the Affordable Care Act's main provisions., another non-profit healthcare education organization, is a great site to look at for easy-to-read information about the Affordable Care Act.  The US government also has an educational site devoted to the topic, at

If you want to learn more about the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act, CNN has a simple guide to the main legal issues they considered in the case.  NPR has an interactive transcript of the court's opinion, which lets you jump to the main opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, as well as supporting and dissenting opinions by other justices.  The first six pages offer a syllabus (summary) of the court's opinion.

If you're wondering what the effects of the law will be, the New York Times has a graphic showing how insurance coverage is likely to change among Americans, using data from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.  For a look at what the law might mean for your coverage, this interactive tool from the Washington Post is useful.  The Reuters news organization also has a useful overview of the law's effects on individuals and families.

For background on the history of healthcare legislation, and all the controversy around it, the library's Issues and Controversies database is a great place to start.  This database offers summaries of the arguments on all sides of controversial issues, which makes it a great way to get a balanced, fact-based look at the issues.  Their article on healthcare reform has a wealth of information on the history of the issue.

Whether you agree or disagree with the Affordable Care Act, everyone can agree that healthcare policy will have a big impact on all Americans in years to come.  We hope these resources will help you find the information you need to draw your own conclusions, and make informed decisions.