Obamacare 6 Years Later

With all the political tirades focused on Obamacare and ongoing Supreme Court filings designed to dismantle one or more provisions,  the actual achievements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have been overshadowed.

Enrollment of 20 Million Previously Uninsured
As of early 2016, 20 million uninsured adults are now covered by health insurance, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. This breaks down to 17.7 million adults enrolled by the insurance exchanges and Medicaid and another 2.3 million young adults, aged 19 to 25 years, able to remain on a parent’s plan until age 26.

The overall uninsured rate has been reduced by nearly half in the last 4 years, from 20.3% in 2012 to the current 11.5%.  All ethnic groups have benefited. Hispanic uninsureds have decreased from 41.8% to 30.5%, Blacks from 22.4% to 10.6% and Whites from 14.3% to 7%.

Majority of Americans Deny They Benefit From ACA
What many don’t realize, says Drew Altman, CEO of the noted health research organization, the Kaiser Family Foundation, is  that those with insurance exchange coverage are just a small portion of the total U.S. population that has health insurance coverage. In contrast to the 20 million covered by ACA plans, 150 million are covered by their employers. Another 72 million are enrolled in Medicaid and the children’s program, CHIP, and 55 million in Medicare..

The majority of Americans covered by other than ACA plans nevertheless benefit from the legislation passed in 2010. For example, 137 million people are eligible for no-cost preventive and screening services. Now there are no longer lifetime caps on insurance coverage, which a recent Federal report notes affected 100 million people facing a serious illness. Those who lose their employer coverage no longer have no fear being unable to get health insurance due to pre-existing conditions or needing to pay outrageous rates to get any kind of insurance coverage.

Confusion Between ACA and Other Insurance Issues
There has much talk about how the premiums in the ACA marketplace are high and continuing to increase. Although some are high, in general, premium increases have been moderate and far less than employer-based insurance plans. Of course, just about everyone is being challenged with meeting deductibles and co-pays. Increasing drug prices, some inexplicably being raised 100% or more, affect all Americans, particularly those on Medicare who are often on multiple medications.

More Work Needed
Obamacare has tackled many of the serious problems in our health system. Yes, there is much yet to be done. But this legislation has made the largest leap forward in access to healthcare in the U.S. since the implementation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.