It’s hard to remember back to nine or ten years ago. At that time, Healthcare was something that wasn’t available to about 50 million Americans (Berwick, 2017). Back then, the question was Did you have healthcare? That all changed in 2010 with one signature by President Barack Obama. The question went DID you have to WHAT kind of healthcare you do have? It was a major achievement for the Democratic Party at that time. Even today, it still affecting millions of Americans today.
There were a lot of positive changes the ACA brought to insurance. Some of the most popular aspects include children could stay on their parent’s plan till they turned 26, you couldn’t be denied health, nor your premiums could no longer be raised for having pre-existing conditions, and men and women would pay the same price for insurance (BrainStuffShow, 2013). It required private insurance companies to reduce the amount spent on overhead. They now could spend only 20% on overhead. It also forced insurance companies to be more transparent with customers. Now they had to publicly justify and inform consumers of any rate increase over 10% (BrainStuffShow, 2013). Obamacare reduced the number of bankruptcy filings. In 2010, 1.5 million people filed. That dropped to 770,846 by 2016 (Amedeo, 2018). It also expanded Medicaid in all but 19 states (due to Supreme Court Decision, making expansion optional). Millions of people who needed it the most now had insurance.
For those who didn’t qualify for Medicaid and for small businesses, attractive tax rebates were offered for those that bought their plans on the exchanges. For the first time, insurances were required to cover preventative measures (BrainStuffShow, 2013). I could see the benefit of this in my own family. I remember my parents not getting the necessary tests the needed like mammograms and colonoscopies because it was too expensive. As someone who was studying in the healthcare field, it was upsetting to see them not to get these important screening measures. I would implore them to get the tests because early detection could prevent a worse prognosis later. Thanks to the ACA, my parents finally were able to get those vital screening tests and I no longer had to worry.
Although the ACA brought a lot of positive changes. It is not without its flaws. First, it created new taxes on things like medical devices and pharmaceutical sales (Healthline, n.d.). Many small business owners had to fire or reduce the hours of their employees because they couldn’t afford the additional cost of paying for health care for all their employees. Others were forced to raise prices to help cover the insurance. This hurt their businesses or even some went out of businesses because consumers tend to prefer retailers with lower prices. One of the hallmark promises of the ACA was Americans were going to have options in picking their insurance plans. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite pan out as the Democrats hoped. In fact, one-third of counties are projected to have just one insurer on their Obamacare exchanges in 2017 (Khazan, 2017). It also made it more difficult for the companies to cover consumers because they could no longer exclude those who were very sick. In Alabama, for instance, Blue Cross Blue Shield is the only insurer participating in the exchange in 2017, and it’s spending $1.20 for every $1 it collects in premiums—an unsustainable ratio, as insurance writer and analyst Louise Norris points outs (Khazan, 2017).
It’s safe to say the ACA isn’t perfect. Neither were government programs like Social Security and Medicare. The ACA is a step in the right direction. But it has done a lot of good for many Americans. It made getting health insurance attractive to individuals as well as small business, provided insurance to those who need it most, and forced insurance companies to be more transparent. Instead of dismantling all of this great work, I strongly believe this administration should work with the Democrats to improve the ACA by making premiums and drug prices more affordable for the average American. It is crucial that whatever comes next arises with a lot of compassion and thought because this is something that will drastically affect millions of lives.
- 1Amadeo, K. (2018, August 15). What You Will and Won’t Lose If Obamacare Is Replaced. Retrieved September 10, 2018, from https://www.thebalance.com/benefits-of-obamacare-advantages-of-the-aca-3306066
- Berwick, D. (2017, May 23). ACA and AHCA: Don Berwick Breaks It Down. Retrieved September 9, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=KoTOzNRw8bg
- BrainStuffShow. (2013, October 07). How Does The Affordable Care Act Work? Retrieved September 9, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vju70I6qSKk
- Healthline. (n.d.). The Pros and Cons of Obamacare. Retrieved September 10, 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/health/consumer-healthcare-guide/pros-and-cons-obamacare#cons
- Khazan, O. (2017, June 28). Why So Many Insurers Are Leaving Obamacare. Retrieved September 10, 2018, from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/05/why-so-many-insurers-are-leaving-obamacare/526137/