Affordable Healthcare

What is ObamaCare?

The official name for “ObamaCare” is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or Affordable Care Act (ACA) for short.

• The ACA was signed into law to reform the health care industry by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010 and upheld by the Supreme Court on June 28, 2012.

• ObamaCare’s goal is to give more Americans access to affordable, quality health insurance and to reduce the growth in U.S. health care spending.

• The Affordable Care Act expands the affordability, quality, and availability of private and public health insurance through consumer protections, regulations, subsidies, taxes, insurance exchanges, and other reforms.

• January 31st, 2016 was your last chance to get 2016 coverage at Healthcare.Gov without qualifying for Special Enrollment. Learn more about your options and the law below.

Open Enrollment 2016 started November 1st, 2015 and ended January 31, 2016. Open enrollment is the only time you can get Minimum Essential Health Coverage for 2016 without qualifying for Special Enrollment.

Options outside of open enrollment are limited to:  Short Term Health Insurance, Medicaid, and CHIP.

In 2015: 1 in 6 Americans got a Health Insurance Marketplace plan for $100 or less, and 87% of people who selected a marketplace plan got financial assistance. For 2016: 7 out of 10 returning Marketplace customers can get a plan for less than $75 a month, and 8 in 10 can get one for $100 or less.

ObamaCare offers a number of new benefits, rights, and protections:

•    Letting young adults stay on their parents’ plan until 26
•    Stopping insurance companies from denying you coverage or charging you more based on health status
•    Stopping insurance companies from dropping you when you are sick or if you make an honest mistake on your application
•    Preventing gender discrimination
•    Stopping insurance companies from imposing unjustified rate hikes
•    Doing away with life-time and annual dollar limits
•    Giving you the right to a rapid appeal of insurance company decisions
•    Expanding coverage to tens of millions by subsidizing health insurance costs through the Health Insurance Marketplaces (HealthCare.Gov and the state-run Marketplaces)
•    Expanding Medicaid to millions in states that chose to expand the program
•    Providing tax breaks to small businesses for offering health insurance to their employees
•    Requiring large businesses to insure employees
•    Requiring all insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions
•    Making CHIP easier for kids to get
•    Improving Medicare for seniors
•    Ensuring all plans cover minimum benefits like limits on cost sharing and ten essential benefits including free preventive care, OB-GYN services with no referrals, free birth control, and coverage for emergency room visits out-of-network

Is ObamaCare Working?

By the end of 2014, about 6.5 million people enrolled in a health plan on ObamaCare’s Health Insurance Marketplace HealthCare.Gov. This included 4.5 million renewals and auto-renewals in addition to the 2 million new enrollments.

By the end of open enrollment 2015, an estimated 11.7 million people were enrolled in state and federal marketplaces. 10.8 million more were covered through Medicaid and CHIP and 5.7 million young people were able to stay on their parents’ plan. Many more were covered through employers who expanded coverage under the ACA and on private plans outside of the marketplace.

Over 15 Million More Americans Have Health Insurance Due to The Affordable Care Act

by Paul Mullen

Both proponents and critics of ObamaCare have been very vocal. One thing they agree on, however, are its aims: Here opponent John Ammon MD states them as he sees them:

ObamaCare was advertised to the American people as a fix for two problems: Reining in the runaway cost of health care and extending health insurance to the uninsured. Long before the law was passed, physicians agreed that major reform of health care financing, taxation, and insurance could help fix these issues, which were very real. The cost of health care had ballooned from coast to coast. These steady increases simultaneously made it harder for many to afford health care or health insurance for their families, thereby driving up the number of uninsured.

Ammon continued: “Intentions didn’t equal results with ObamaCare. Neither of these two problems have been addressed by the law. Health care experts at Harvard University and Dartmouth College still estimate that health care costs will continue to grow faster than the economy for at least the next 20 years. Most troublesome, the federal government estimates that 31 million Americans will still be uninsured by 2024.”

This article is about the effect ObamaCare has had on the uninsured up to April 2014. Based on the experience of health care expansion in Massachusetts, it will take at least three years to see the full effect. Without controlling the ever-rising cost of healthcare, no system can keep people insured. America relies mainly on employer-based insurance, and this has been decreasing each year since 2001. Medicare is the major source of insurance for those over 65, and this too has come under severe pressure from both the rising number of people over 65 and rising costs, particularly for the increased numbers of very elderly. But costs are a topic for another day.

On the numbers insured, we have all heard the news that 8 million people enrolled through state and federal health exchanges. But how many of those will pay? How many lost insurance when their previous, inadequate policies were canceled? You may have heard some politicians claim that cancellations and non-payments outweigh exchange enrollments: claims which earned them “Four Pinnochios” from the Washington Post FactChecker (2). On the other hand, some politicians have made exaggerated claims of the success of the Affordable Care Act.

At we aim to give you unbiased facts about ObamaCare, as accurately as possible. So we have been asking what effect has the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) really had in reducing number of uninsured in America. To find out, we looked at all available information from many different sources. We looked at how many really paid, how many were able to buy new policies off the exchange, how many kept old non-compliant policies, how many are newly covered by Medicaid, and how many have gained or lost employer coverage so far.

The analysis is complicated by the fragmented nature of health insurance in America. Apart from the over 65 population served by Medicare, the rules for health insurance were (and to some extent still are) different in each of the 50 States (+DC). So we have a fragmented collection of different employer provided insurance policies, individual health plans (which varied widely in quality, many providing only limited benefits) and government assisted programs, including Medicaid (which is different in every state), VA, Indian Health Service, and many state-run programs.

Data on many of these numbers is not as easily available as exchange enrollment, and some data overlaps other data (for example, the elderly may be covered by both Medicare and a retirement plan provided by their former employer), so we have used information from a variety of sources and cross-checked it against other sources. While many of the numbers are necessarily best estimates (and thus could turn out to be a little smaller or larger), we have compared different sources and found they point to the same overall results.

Our best estimate is that, as a result of ObamaCare, over 15 million people who otherwise would have been uninsured now have health insurance.

Updated as of February 05, 2016