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Thursday, March 04, 2021

On June 28, everyone on Facebook suddenly became U.S. Constitution wizards. Experts from the far right to the extreme left spouted their professional opinions and quoted the document like a Shakespearean scholar quotes Hamlet.

Did they all collectively earn a degree in American government? No, it was just that the Affordable Care Act, or better known as Obamacare, was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many of these “constitutional scholars” fell back to the tried jab of calling our president “socialist,” or even worse, “communist.” I can’t help but laugh at the petty insults. As many know, socialism would endorse health care provided by a single payer, i.e. our government.

Unfortunately, hundreds of U.S. citizens haven’t realized that Obamacare will not force the government to provide the masses with health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act enforces an individual mandate. This means that every U.S. citizen needs to be covered by some form of health insurance. If citizens decide they do not want to purchase health insurance, despite being able to afford it, they will have to pay a tax.

This mandate is not socialism. This mandate just builds on the capitalist foundations upon which our country was created.

The health care system has been long overdue for a reform. The U.S. is one of the most powerful countries in the world, but severely lacks when it comes to caring for its citizens.

While we stomp around crying “Democracy for All!,” our health care ranks at a measly 37th worldwide. Our rank is not due to a lack of monetary funds. In 2010, the U.S. government spent nearly $2.6 trillion on health care. These numbers show that despite its best efforts, our country was in dire need of change.

Despite the necessity for reform, the issue of a government tax has gotten many in a constitutional rights fit. I would like to explain why the tax should exist.

In our current health-care system, 5 percent of patients account for 50 percent of all health care costs. When someone without insurance goes into a hospital and receives care, someone with insurance ends up covering what the uninsured can’t pay. This tax would be the first step to covering the shortfall that the uninsured create and would hopefully lead to a balanced system.

There are individuals who don’t feel they need to account for others and show this through their distaste for social services. This is one social service that works in your favor. If you purchase health care and encourage others to do the same, you will end up taking care of yourself. If you don’t purchase health care, you will end up allowing someone else to cover what you can’t immediately afford.

I’m also excited to be able to stay on my parents’ insurance until I’m 26. I’m excited I will never have to worry about the affordability of my medical needs. I believe this is the start to a healthier United States.

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I encourage you to look at the positive aspect of the health care bill before you promise to move to Canada. Our country is still so young and yet the unhappiness and debt continues.

There are many struggles and battles we need to fight. Is it really worth exhausting our energies on an act that would provide health care for everyone? I believe our willpower is better used toward the greater battles that are ahead of us.

Michela Martinazzi is an art history junior at UF. Her column appears on Tuesdays. You can contact her at opinions@alligator.org.

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