Stoffa: Five hidden gems inside Obamacare

Gabriel Stoffa

With the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing Obamacare to proceed, citizens across this fair nation have been both lamenting and celebrating its contents. The change of health care required for all is at the forefront of most folks minds, but what else was included?

Here are five tidbits you might not have realized were hiding inside the massive document passed a couple years ago:

1) Fake baking is pricier.

A 10 percent tax has been underway since health care reform hit. Those wonderful UV rays the beds spit out to crisp your skin are listed as carcinogenic to humans by the Agency for Research on Cancer. For those that already auditioning for the role of Ever-tan Betty, the tax probably didn’t even register.

For those interested only in the occasional vacation priming, consider the natural sun burn for saving some pennies, as laying outside remains free.

2) Fast food chains must supply info on calories and the like.

If a chain has 20 or more restaurants, calories for items must be displayed on the inside and drive-thru menus. Alongside that, if you ask for the sugar, fat, sodium, carbohydrates, etc. content of items, the restaurant must provide you that information; sidenote, the employee cannot just tell you, it must be in writing.

Oddly though, movie theaters escaped the requirements. I guess it is readily known enough to all that there is nothing healthy served in any size or amount at theaters. Though I think there should have been a little rule to make the theaters make it more apparent to all just how horrid your “buttery” popcorn and soda combo is.

For example, a 54-ounce large soda at Regal has 33 teaspoons of sugar and 500 empty calories; a 5-ounce bag of Twizzlers contains 15 teaspoons of sugar; and at AMC a “large popcorn has 1,030 calories and 57 grams of saturated fat — the equivalent of a pound of baby back ribs topped with a scoop of Häagen-Dazs ice cream, but with more fat,” according to an article on about tests from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Whether any of this information will make a profound difference in the massive amounts of overeating and unhealthy consumption that has come to be synonymous with descriptions of America, remains an unknown.

Though this does mean that if you have time on your hands or are just feeling particularly impish, you can take an afternoon to hit up every chain in town to request all the health info on their food items for no other reason than wasting some time and messing with the routine of the workers.

3) Abstinence-only education continues.

There was a $250 million grant allotted for abstinence-only programs, to be used as $50 million increments during five years. Programs must “teach that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and other associated health problems,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Also, education must inform youth that sex before marriage causes “harmful psychological and physical effects.”

Wow. I don’t know about anybody else, but what are defined as sexual activities — outercourse, intercourse, foreplay and other areas of general pleasure — were a big help in getting me through my teenage years. Being as how some abstinence-only education doesn’t even encourage masturbation, I can only conclude that this money is not in the best interest of sanity for teens. “Harmful psychological and physical” effects come from not getting a little release, if you know what I’m saying; “snap snap, grin grin, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more?

The education doesn’t teach sex before marriage is wrong, thankfully, but the funding is still not terribly useful when you consider that waiting until you aren’t a teenager doesn’t stop you from deciding to embark on sex romps when you hit college. I mean, it isn’t as if the things we are taught in school as teens really stuck with us once we hit the freedom of dorm room and frat house living, right?

Luckily, $75 million is offered for teaching about abstinence alongside contraception choices, with an additional $25 million for untested program ideas.

4) Hooray for boobies!

Well, for boobies and other preventative care to be fair.

Insurance companies must fully cover mammograms, physical exams, colonoscopies, vaccinations, screenings for STIs/STDs, lots of that good stuff to help maintain our health between those junk food, drinking or otherwise binges.

Preventative care is an excellent way to keep from psyching yourself into further “illness” or stress-related situations if you are given to diagnosing through the Internet. On top of that, preventative care can actually catch what would be serious problems before it is too late.

Also, employers must provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” This provision doesn’t do a whole lot for most, but it involves women being happy and breasts, so I figured I’d let y’all know anyway.

5) You get to be informed.

The words used to describe your health plan must be written in easy, or easier, to understand language. Those questions you might have about what hoops you might have to jump through or pay will be more apparent, which means you can compare your plan to others for optimal efficiency.

With the understanding of your plan, you can also try to rationalize if doctors are prescribing a drug for you because it is the most efficient for cost and your health or because of influence from big pharmaceutical companies. The Physician Payment Sunshine Act forces medical supply companies to report payments or other things of value that they’ve given to doctors and hospitals. If greasing of palms in the medical world is harder to hide, your average Joe might save some bucks.

There are other little details and costs and odd bits that should concern you, so on your coffee breaks or with other free time, try looking up some of the other benefits you might soon profit from; or just figure out reasons to bemoan the existence of Obamacare.