On this past Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, and will be upheld. This act, which is often called ObamaCare, is meant to make health care more affordable, accessible, and secure to more Americans. This ruling has sparked discussions around the country—some are heralding it as Obama’s finest achievement, and others believe that it is too close to socialism and is Obama’s greatest mistake, surely ending his chances for reelection. But many people don’t actually know that this act entails, so here is a rough breakdown:
For college students, one of the most significant aspects of this Act is that it allows all young adults under the age of 26 to remain on their parent’s health insurance plans. While some young adults have no problem finding secure, health-insurance providing jobs right upon graduating college, not all of us are that lucky, so this provides us with some extra time to get our lives together before we have to start dealing with insurance payments.
Another major aspect of this Act is that it will offer more affordable health care plans to the roughly 30 million Americans who are currently uninsured. States are responsible for coming up with low cost options to provide to the uninsured, which will go into effect starting in 2014.
Preexisting health conditions had previously been a problem for many Americans, because health insurance companies would refuse coverage to those with a condition that might be costly to them. Now, insurance companies are not allowed to discriminate on any preexisting conditions, and they are not allowed to charge you more if you are a woman (another common problem). On this same line, Obama promises that health insurance companies that cover those with serious illnesses are no longer allowed to jack-up coverage prices for those with severe or long-term illnesses.
One of the more controversial aspects of the Act is that it mandates that all Americans obtain minimum health insurance coverage. If they fail to do so, they must pay a penalty. This is legal as it functions like a tax—for those that can afford health care but chose not to purchase it, the penalty is like a tax. This falls under the ruling that all Americans must participate in the market for medical care.
Essentially, the Affordable Care Act prevents insurance companies from excluding people from coverage because they fear that certain people will be too expensive to cover. Simultaneously, it provides more Americans with access to health care they can afford. This act is hailed as an over-due victory for people with serious, long-term illnesses, youth under 26 who now have extended coverage, and for the low-income citizens who previously had no access to healthcare.
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Huffington Post: Supreme Court Health Care Decision: Individual Mandate Survives
Saturday’s Extra Second
I hope you had big plans for this weekend, because it was a special one. This past weekend was actually longer than all the other weekends this year. On Saturday night, an entire extra second was added to the clock just before midnight. Okay, so the weekend was only longer by a second, but every second counts, right?
The reason for this ‘leap second’ was to synchronize the world’s atomic clocks to accommodate for the gradual slowing of the Earth’s rotation. The atomic clocks, which are in charge of keeping time extremely accurately, are actually almost too accurate. They are so precise that they do not account for less constant rotation of the Earth. So this extra second works just the same way as the extra day in a leap year does—it keeps the clock in sync with how the Earth is actually rotating around on its axis, just like the extra leap day keeps the calendar in sync with the Earth rotating around the sun.
Although they are not commonly know, leap seconds have been added on a somewhat irregular basis over the years since the 1970s. The reason for this is that the Earth is rotating about 2 milliseconds slower than it was 100 years ago. This isn’t some side effect of global warming or anything, it’s simply a natural process that has been occurring for millions of years. When the dinosaurs roamed, the Earth was likely taking closer to 23 hours to make one full rotation.
So unless you are highly ambitious, you probably only managed to squeeze another blink into your extra second, but keep in mind that over the years, these seconds to make a difference. Not really for you, but for keeping our time accurate. If overlooked for long enough, the time for the sunrise might start getting closer to sunset, and eventually winter could start looking a lot more like spring.
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