As Congress begins its debate on changing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it’s good to review the success the federal health care law has had in reducing the uninsured rate in the U.S.
Today, more than 30 million people are currently insured as a result of the ACA’s insurance subsidies, expanded Medicaid eligibility, state and federal outreach efforts, and market regulations.
Before the ACA, more than one-third of people who tried to buy health insurance in the individual market were either turned down, charged more or were told a condition excluded them from their health plan.
How has the ACA succeeded in increasing the insured rate? The ACA has made purchasing easier and more affordable. Consumer protections that ban discrimination for pre-existing conditions have also allowed more people to get covered.
The ACA’s primary goal is to allow anyone without employer coverage to have affordable health coverage – no matter what their current health status is. Under the ACA, insurers must:
- Offer a plan to everyone who applies
- Can’t charge more based on gender or health
- Are limited in how much more to charge older vs. younger persons
- Can’t impose lifetime or annual benefit limits or cancel coverage.
- Include Essential Health Benefits
- Provide premium tax credits that reduce share of costs for incomes between $24,000 and $97,000 for a family of four.
Why is having health insurance important? Having health insurance coverage allows people to have regular doctor visits and get timely medical care. Americans without health insurance are less likely to go to the doctor when they need to or get preventive care and cancer screenings. Even a gap in coverage increases the likelihood someone will not get timely health care.
The Commonwealth Fund report breaks down the success of the ACA by the numbers:
Near the end of the ACA’s fourth open-enrollment period, nearly 9 million people had signed up for a plan through HealthCare.gov. Millions of other consumers in 11 states and the District of Columbia have enrolled through states’ marketplaces. In addition, 7 million have purchased health insurance in the individual market. Expansions to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program have allowed an additional 16 million people.
If you need assistance enrolling in health insurance, including Medicaid and Florida Kidcare, licensed navigators from the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida can help. Call 877-553-7453 to make an appointment. Or go to efof.org/acanavigation for information on navigation sites and upcoming events.