When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010, people on both sides of the political spectrum questioned whether this massive undertaking would accomplish what it set out to do. Even supporters of a national healthcare system expressed doubts about the implications, and naysayers continue to argue that the plan isn’t working as promised. Unfortunately for those who oppose the healthcare law, the ACA is not only accomplishing its goals, but it’s exceeding expectations across the board. In terms of “Access, Affordability & Quality,” the key metrics by which the new law has been measured according to the Department of Health and Human Services, Obamacare is right on target. Below, we examine five facts that highlight the success of the ACA.
#1: The quality of healthcare has improved.
It’s not enough for insurance to be affordable. Appropriate coverage needs to meet your needs and give you better options for protecting yourself and those you love. According to a Gallup survey, about 70 percent of people with marketplace coverage reported that the quality was good to excellent. Continued enrollment on state-run and federally facilitated marketplaces also indicates that people are happy with their coverage.
The ACA introduced several important benefits to those with insurance, including covered preventive care and the ability to seek mental health counseling without exorbitant out-of-pocket costs. The ten essential benefits guaranteed under Obamacare allow people to better manage their healthcare and lead healthier, less stressful lives. Plus, restrictions on dubious insurance practices have encouraged better relationships between providers and beneficiaries.
#2: Federal and state-run marketplaces cover about 11.7 million Americans.
Before the ACA became law, gaining access to quality health insurance was challenging for many people and downright impossible for some. Since the law took effect, about 11.7 million people have taken advantage of the newly created health insurance exchange sites. These sites enable consumers to shop for plans like they might shop for anything else online. By browsing a list of available options, you can compare features and pick a plan that meets your needs.
Health insurance exchange sites also brought about cost-saving federal subsidies and tax credits for those with limited incomes. There’s still some debate about whether federal subsidies apply to federally run marketplaces, and that case will come before the Supreme Court in June. However, access to federal subsidies, which are available only to those who sign up for coverage on a marketplace, has helped millions of low- to medium-income families buy health insurance for the first time ever. Nearly 12 million Americans are satisfied enough with the exchanges that they continue to use them as their primary source for insurance.
#3: Approximately 8 million people have bought a private plan.
Despite the success of the marketplaces, about 8 million people still chose to enroll in a private health plan last year according to The New York Times. Fortunately for those consumers, insurance has been radically upgraded since the ACA became law. Plans offered today both on and off the marketplace must offer ten essential benefits. These include things like prescription coverage, outpatient treatment, pediatric care and maternity services. Everyone got an upgrade with the new law as long as they signed up for an ACA-compliant plan. Even though millions of people saw an increase in premiums in 2015, they also saw an increase in the amount of coverage and the protections that they received.
#4: The expansion of Medicaid has covered another 13.4 million people.
The New York Times also points out that Medicaid expansion has covered another 13.4 million people throughout the United States. Since October 2013 alone, more than 10 million people have signed up for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Before the ACA took effect, millions of low-income families fell within the gap created by making just enough money to be excluded from Medicaid participation but being unable to buy insurance. The new law increased the cutoff for a family of four to $33,465, which helped a lot of families apply for financial assistance. There are still 22 states that have resisted expanding Medicaid, but more states are considering expansion as people push for more affordable healthcare nationwide.
#5: There are 10 million newly covered Americans under the ACA.
All in all, there’s been a substantial decrease in the number of people living in America without health insurance. In fact, the number of uninsured people has dropped by nearly 30 percent or 10 million people since the new law took effect. Across the country, people continue to take advantage of low-cost health insurance options that vastly improve their lives. About 30 million Americans still haven’t signed up for any type of coverage, and some people may not be able to with limited Medicaid expansion and income restrictions. However, the numbers indicate that the Affordable Care Act is working for a large portion of the United States.