On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama initiated the Affordable Care Act – comprehensive health insurance reforms that have been debated endlessly by politicians and the American public alike.
The Act, which is also commonly known as “Obamacare,” may have its pros and cons, but now in 2014, policy makers can now celebrate some pieces of success. In a major economic speech given earlier this month at Northwestern University in Illinois, Obama used the podium to talk up some of the major accomplishments that the Act has achieved in the last four years. (Open enrollment for the new healthcare program began October 2013.)
Despite the “doom and gloom” predictions, he said the insurance reforms have: slowed premium rates from growing, saving families an average of $1800 a year; and insured 26 percent of the previously uninsured, which amounts to roughly 10 million people.
The president’s reflection comes after considerable criticism (rightfully) of the law’s website, which couldn’t handle all of the visitors. But ultimately, he said the reforms are doing what they were intended to do, which was make healthcare universal in the United States.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agrees with the president, and on its website shows that the law has improved access to healthcare for families, seniors, businesses, and taxpayers with the following statistics:
-7.3 million people signed up for marketplace plans, paid their premiums, and accessed quality, affordable coverage
-Eight million individuals enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP since the beginning of open enrollment – an increase of nearly 14 percent compared to average monthly signups before October 1
-Millions of young adults are now covered under their parents’ plan, because the law says they can now do so until age 26
–The New England Journal of Medicine found that 10.3 million uninsured Americans have are now covered since the beginning of open enrollment
-Since the start of open enrollment, the Act has reduced the number of uninsured adults by 26 percent
-Consumers can now choose from an average of 47 plans
-In 2015, a 25 percent increase in the total number of issuers selling health insurance plans is predicted
-76 million Americans with private health insurance can now get preventive services like vaccines, cancer screenings, and yearly wellness visits without cost sharing, because the law says insurance companies must provide these services with no copay or other out-of-pocket expense. This includes nearly 30 million women and over 18 million children.
-Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition or because they reach an annual or lifetime limit in coverage.
-Insurance companies must include things like ambulance care and hospital stays in their coverage. And being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition.
While the reforms do seem to be working, there are still those that feel the future of healthcare would be better off without the Act. According to a recent study, the Act could cause a shortage of 52,000 primary care physicians by 2025 because of the high demand of the aging population. Writers of the study infer that this could leave millions of Americans without access to healthcare.
The study also noted that office visits to primary care physicians could increase from 462 million to 565 million by 2025, further complicating access. The report also pointed to higher drug costs because pharmaceutical companies are now required to pay an extra $84.8 billion in fees over the next 10 years. This could prompt companies to raise drug costs, which would require consumers to pay more for medication.
While the Act has its critics, any plan of this magnitude will take time to work out its quirks. With only four years since inception, it is safe to assume that there will be future successes, problems, and changes to come. But, according to the president, as he concluded his speech, the Act is “a game-changer.”
“Healthcare has long been the single biggest driver of America’s future deficits — healthcare is now the single biggest factor driving those deficits down,” Obama said. “While good, affordable healthcare might still be a fanged threat to freedom on Fox News, it’s working pretty well in the real world.”
And be sure to tune in to Cafe Mocha radio for their “Get Smart” series where they’ll be tackling some of the most important topics for women throughout the month of October. We’ll also be kicking off the MadameNoire partnership with Cafe Mocha, featuring our segment “Did Y’all See” Saturday October 11. Check out Cafe Mocha’s website for local air times and SiriusXM Channel 141 Saturdays from 1- 3pm EST to catch MN on the air!