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Introduction and General Points

Medical schools love to assess an applicant’s knowledge and views of the healthcare system during the medical school interview. Both traditional medical school interviews and multiple mini interviews may include questions or scenarios about the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) and its impact on how we deliver healthcare.  In fact, medical schools are not the only ones asking about the ACA. PA schools, pharmacy schools, and sometimes even dental schools, like to discuss the possible implications of the new law on their profession with prospective students. Applicants frequently want to know what’s important to understand about the new healthcare law.  Before we get into discussing the law and covering its main components, its important to point out the following:

  • Do not drive yourself crazy trying to learn all the details of the law: As it turns out the ACA is a very long bill with thousands of pages of regulations and there is no way you are going to know all of it.  Admissions committees don’t expect you to know all the details but rather to have a basic grasp and to have a position.
  • Learn the basics and spend some time thinking about it: Instead of trying to learn all the details, try to grasp the basics of the act and spend some time thinking about the act, formulating an opinion about it, and considering its implications.
  • Before you go into your interview, read current events related to the Affordable Care Act: Interviewers may ask you to state your opinion about a recent event in the news that pertains to the Affordable Care Act.  There are many great news outlets where you can learn about current events.  The New York Times is one very good resource to consider.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit if you don’t know something: If an aspect of the Affordable Care Act comes up in your interview, which you are not knowledgeable about, do not try to make up an answer.  Its perfectly OK to be honest with the interviewer and tell them you don’t know.  You are not expected to be an authority on the matter.
  • Do not express opinions that are too strong or one-sided: When discussing the Affordable Care Act or other political or ethical matters, its always a good idea to take a middle of the road position. You do not want to state that you fully agree with every aspect or that you are fully against it.  Instead, talk about the pros and the cons of the act.  By doing so you will come across more thoughtful and nuanced in your approach.
  • Do not refer to the Affordable Care Act as Obamacare!  The proper name is the Affordable Care Act.  Calling it Obamacare will make you sound less informed.

What You Need to Know about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for your Medical School Interview

The information in this section will help provide you with a framework for thinking about the Affordable Care Act as you go into your interview.   The Affordable Care Act has two objectives.  In this section we have described those two objectives and shown how it achieves each objective:

Objective 1 – Increasing access to healthcare services: The first objective of the ACA is to ensure that more Americans are able to see a doctor, get medicines, get surgery, have medical tests, and receive other healthcare services.  Broadly speaking the way the ACA achieves this is by increasing the number of people who have health insurance. The specific mechanisms through which it increases insurance coverage are as follows:

  • Individual Mandate:  Individuals who make above a certain annual income (people in the middle and upper class) are required to obtain health insurance.  If they don’t, they will be charged a fee at the end of the year.  For some who earn only slightly above the minimum cutoff income, the government will provide a fee assistance (subsidy) to help pay for health insurance.
  • Small Company Tax Incentives: Small companies who provide health insurance to their employees will receive benefits that will reduce their yearly taxes.
  • Insurance Eligibility for Pre-Existing Conditions: Unlike before, insurance companies are no longer allowed to deny health insurance to people who have had medical conditions in the past.
  • Staying on Parents’ Insurance Plan Until Age 26: Young people will be able to stay on their parents insurance plan until they turn 26.
  • Expanding Medicaid:The minimum annual income required to qualify for Medicaid coverage will increase. As a result more people will qualify for Medicaid.
  • Creating Health Insurance Exchanges: Exchanges are online marketplaces through which individuals and businesses can compare different insurance place and purchase plans that meet certain affordability requirements.  Health insurances exchanges are meant to create competition between different insurance providers, lowering the price of health insurance.

Objective 2 – Reducing healthcare costs: The second goal of the ACA is to reduce the costs of health care.  There are two important mechanisms through which the ACA achieves this:

  • Increasing Coverage for Preventive Services: With the implementation of the ACA, insurance plans are now required to cover variety of preventive services.  These include screenings for cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.  With more disease prevention and earlier screening of disease, fewer people will go on to develop serious diseases.  Also, with more screening, diseases can be detected and treated earlier.  All of this would reduce the cost of healthcare.
  • Increasing Access to Healthcare Services: The first objective of the ACA is to increase access to healthcare services.  Increasing access decreases the cost of healthcare because more people will be able to visit their physicians on a regular and timely basis and get treatment for disease in a timely fashion.  Also, one of the factors contributing to the high cost of health care is the fact that before the ACA, the uninsured would get medical care for emergencies but would not necessarily be able to pay for it.  Hospitals were forced to raise their prices to make up for the money they lost when they treated people who were not able to pay.  With more people having health insurance coverage, fewer people will receive emergency medical care without paying, hospitals will experience less loss and will be able to lower their prices.

To learn more about how you can prepare for your medical school interview or to get assistance, call or email us today: 888-839-9997 or info@admissionshelpers.com

Disclaimer: The information provided here about the affordable care act is highly simplified.  Admissions Helpers or its representatives do not assume any responsibility for how the content used from this article may affect an applicant’s candidacy.