On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare,” into law. This initiative expanded access to health insurance, enhanced medical quality, and reduced uncompensated healthcare spending.
Unfortunately, it appears that the Affordable Care Act has done little to slow the rise in insurance costs. Instead, premiums are rising as underlying expenses keep increasing, new benefit mandates make coverage more costly, and younger and healthier individuals are opting out of coverage altogether.
1. It didn’t
In 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” into law as part of an effort to overhaul our broken health care system. It had three main objectives: affordability; medical care that is innovative; and expanding Medicaid.
The initial goal is to guarantee that all Americans can afford health insurance plans and receive the coverage they need, regardless of income level. This is accomplished through tax credits distributed as assistance in paying monthly premiums.
The second goal strives to guarantee everyone has access to quality medical care while safeguarding patients’ choices of doctors. This is accomplished by prohibiting insurance companies from denying or restricting necessary access and eliminating lifetime limits on coverage.
2. It didn’t stop the escalation
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) did an admirable job of controlling costs, yet there remain those who cannot afford access to healthcare. We must do better.
In January 2014, the Affordable Care Act launched subsidies to assist those who do not meet Medicaid eligibility with affording health insurance. These tax credits are distributed on a sliding scale basis according to income levels.
The Affordable Care Act also implemented the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) rule, which requires insurance companies to spend at least 80% of premium dollars on care and quality. If they fail to do so, customers can receive a portion of their money back as a refund.
3. It didn’t stop the rise of premiums
While the Affordable Care Act has helped reduce uninsured Americans, its repeal would still result in 20-25 percent increases to health premiums within one year and 32 million more people without coverage by 10 years. According to CBO estimates, repealing this law would cause health insurance costs to soar by as much as 25 percent over 10 years – leading to an estimated 32 million more people without coverage at that point.
Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), individual market insurers often excluded applicants with preexisting conditions, charged higher premiums to older and sicker people, or offered only low-quality plans that didn’t cover essential benefits like mental health treatment. These practices – known as adverse selection – led to high uninsurance rates in many states and left some people without options at all.
4. It didn’t stop the rise of deductibles
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), individual-market plans must cover a set of essential health benefits (EHBs). These consist of ten categories of services like hospitalization, prescription drugs and mental health care.
Eliminating these requirements could have the unintended consequence of making it harder for those with costly medical conditions to secure affordable coverage. This would make insurance even less accessible, especially for those who have a history of health issues or who live in high-risk areas.
According to Sabrina Corlette, director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University, the Affordable Care Act required insurers to offer various tax credits to low-income people who purchase subsidized health plans through exchanges. Unfortunately, in 2017, Trump administration stopped paying these subsidies.
5. It didn’t stop the rise of out-of-pocket expenses
Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies could deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions and had more freedom in cancelling someone’s plan if they became sick.
Many Americans were left without access to affordable health coverage until the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This landmark legislation prohibited such practices and extended Medicaid eligibility, provided tax credits to help pay for premiums, and allowed children to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26.
Even with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), high out-of-pocket expenses remain a significant issue for many Americans. According to JAMA’s 2017 study, around 11 million Americans experienced “catastrophic medical expenses” – costs that exceeded 40% of an individual’s pre-tax income after food and housing.