In the wake of the Affordable Care Act (i.e., ACA, or “Obamacare”) fiasco, the current Ebola scare, and the recent midterm elections, it has been nearly impossible to separate politics and healthcare into two different categories. As election results rolled in on November 4 and it became clear that the GOP would regain control of the Senate — giving Republicans a fighting chance to strike down Obama’s healthcare policies — many people took a moment to reflect on the actual state of healthcare coverage in the United States. Are the Republicans on to something, or has the ACA quietly improved the health of Americans without being noticed?It’s no secret that small businesses have struggled to provide adequate health insurance policies for employees, but that struggle is exactly what the ACA was supposed to address. Now that it’s been a full year since HealthCare.gov has been open and functioning (sort of), Americans have been expecting to see results. Much to the satisfaction of GOP supporters and politicians, the ACA hasn’t exactly fulfilled all of its promises.
The HealthCare.gov website disaster — the site malfunctioned on an epic scale last year and required millions of dollars to repair — is still fresh in the minds of many Americans. As the second enrollment period creeps closer (starting on November 15), ACA opponents are already predicting that individual state websites will malfunction yet again, and drive even more Democrats away from Obamacare.
On the other hand, New York Times reporter Margot Sanger-Katz recently noted that the number of Americans without health insurance has dropped by about 25% — anywhere from eight to 11 million Americans have been able to afford healthcare coverage because of the ACA.
Over half of these people signed up for Medicaid, after the ACA allowed states to extend eligibility to low-income households, and the remaining people mostly signed up with private insurance plans. Additionally, an estimated three to four million young adults became eligible for insurance benefits after the law extended the age limit under which millennials could be included in their parents’ heath insurance policies.
The obvious question at hand is whether or not the healthcare reform projects have actually made a difference in the health status of regular Americans. Experts say that it’s too early to conclude whether the entire population has benefited from the law, although young adults seem to be receiving medical treatments more often.
“We have not seen much of an increase with people who have health insurance at all at our level of care. We need some sort of affordable health care, but that particular plan was not the best. What happens with these ACA plans is they don’t cover a lot of common injuries and illnesses. People need to look at these plans because most are only designed for catastrophic events, not for the average person with kids who just need a doctor,” says Terri Porter, Clinic Administrator at Doctors Express Phoenix.Unfortunately, it may take years before Americans can see the long-term results of the ACA, and by that time, GOP opponents could have enough time to dismantle the entire program. But even if the ACA is only able to provide more platforms for Americans to discuss health concerns and insurance policies — that’s certainly a pretty good start to create a better healthcare system.