Update on enrollment numbers from HHS
If there’s any doubt that the Affordable Care Act is doing what it set out to do, then the recent enrollment numbers issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services serve as evidence for the success of the new law. According to the HHS, 6.5 million Americans have either signed up for a new plan or re-enrolled in an existing plan on the federally facilitated marketplace since enrollment began on Nov. 15. From Dec. 27 through Jan. 2 alone, nearly 103,000 plans were selected. More than 491,000 people browsed the federal marketplace during this period, which indicates that more Americans are exploring their options for healthcare coverage in the coming year.
Enrollment for 2015
Healthcare officials are optimistic about the success of the marketplaces as well as Obamacare in general. Since open enrollment began in November, more than eight million applications have been submitted to the HealthCare.gov site. Applications may not become actual sign-up numbers, but the fact that 8.4 million people have considered purchasing plans on the federal site bodes well for 2015 enrollment totals.
That 6.6 million people have signed up already this year is also a promising sign for supporters of the new law, and it helps strengthen the argument for its success. These numbers don’t even include statistics from state-based marketplaces. As of this year, 37 states utilize the federally facilitated health insurance exchange site while the remaining states host their own marketplaces. Enrollment numbers for 2015 only reflect the federal site, which means that the total number of sign-ups for the current enrollment period may be substantially higher.
In addition, consumers need to sign up and pay their healthcare premiums for the first month in order for their plan to be counted as an “effectuated plan.” The numbers released by the HHS don’t include the number of effectuated enrollees. Still, the high number of sign-ups lends support to the belief that the ACA has helped millions of Americans gain access to affordable healthcare coverage.
Positive Results of the ACA
Not only are the enrollment numbers for this year promising, but other factors prove that the new healthcare law has accomplished at least a portion of its goals already in the past year. The HHS asserts that in terms of “access, affordability, and quality,” the Affordable Care Act is working for millions of Americans across the country. Over the past year, the number of uninsured people in the United States has dropped by about 10 million people.
Insurance has also improved for many people. Before the Affordable Care Act took effect, the majority of Americans already had at least some type of health insurance. Under the new law, those with insurance have seen significant improvements in the quality of their care. For example, more women now have access to comprehensive services that include maternity care, routine gynecological visits and life-saving medical screenings.
Proper women’s health services help millions of families in the United States stay healthier and avoid astronomical fees. HHS reports that the average cost of hospital bills for women who delivered healthy babies in 2012 was $23,000. Health insurance mitigates these and other costs associated with women’s health. The Affordable Care Act requires current health insurance plans to include women’s health services and maternity care as part of the “ten essential benefits” provision. By enabling women to undergo routine screenings sans out-of-pocket costs, the Affordable Care Act helps millions of families avoid serious problems down the road.
Women aren’t the only ones benefiting from the new healthcare system. Senior citizens have saved more than $11.5 billion on prescription drugs since 2010, which amounts to about $1,407 per Medicare beneficiary. Elderly Americans have also been readmitted to the hospital less since the new law was implemented. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of hospital readmissions fell by about 150,000 people.
Affordability for Consumers and the Country
On the whole, healthcare costs have been driven down by the Affordable Care Act. More than 87 percent of enrollees in the first month of the 2015 enrollment period received financial assistance to purchase insurance. Subsidies have made insurance possible for an even greater number of families across the U.S. Due to the popularity of the marketplaces, more insurers have jumped on board for this year, which gives Americans greater access to affordable plans from a more diverse range of insurers.
Healthcare spending has also improved according to the Health and Human Services Department. Last year’s increase was the slowest since 1960, and price inflation hasn’t been this low in the last 50 years. Other factors that affect spending include the reallocation of Medicare funding and the elimination of health insurance fraud, which were two of the ACA’s goals over the next decade. Since 2009, the government has recovered about $19.2 billion in taxpayer money thanks in part to measures introduced with the ACA.
Continued Success for 2015
It’s clear that Obamacare is helping millions of people gain access to health insurance and healthcare services that they may not have had access to otherwise. In particular, the Hispanic population is jumping on board the program if the call numbers are any indicator. Since enrollment began on Nov. 15, more than 293,000 calls were made to the Spanish line of the federal marketplace. The number of people using CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the federal government’s Spanish site for healthcare enrollment, topped 51,000 between Dec. 27 and Jan. 2 with the total number exceeding 571,000 since the enrollment period started.
Americans have until Feb. 15, 2015 to enroll in a qualified health insurance plan. Even if you’ve already selected your coverage for the upcoming year, you can still make changes on the marketplace until the February deadline. If you want coverage to begin by Feb. 1, you have until Jan. 15 to make your selection. Before you enroll in a plan, check out HealthCare.gov to browse your options. Approximately 70 percent of Americans report general satisfaction with their coverage through the marketplace, so you’re likely to find a plan that meets your needs and budget.