It’s January 10, 2014, and civilization has not collapsed due to the menace of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). While this persistence of social order is not a surprise to me, many of the most vocal opponents of the ACA might be left wondering what happened to the cataclysmic predictions that have yet to come true (death panels! Death spirals! Government run healthcare!).
Seeing as the law has been more fully in effect for only 10 days, I am quite confident new problems, unforeseen consequences, and hiccups will arise, but the ACA is the law of the land that will thrive with tweaks and course corrections just like other significant reforms in the past.
I find it valuable, at this moment, to take a tally of all that has changed since the ACA was passed, and I have had a lot of fun learning these numbers:
- 9,781,525 -Americans who newly have health insurance since 2010 (almost 10 million people!)
- 2.4 Million - newly insured through the federal and state-based health insurance exchanges
- 4.5 Million - newly enrolled in Medicaid in states that chose to expand their program
- 3.1 Million - young adults under the age of 26 are covered through their parents health insurance
- 40 Million – Americans who could be eventually covered once the ACA reaches all who are uninsured and eligible
- ZERO – Americans who can be discriminated against due to a pre-existing medical condition
- ZERO – the out of pocket costs for qualified preventive health services, which 105M Americans used in 2011 and 2012
- $1.1 Billion – dollars refunded to consumers from insurance companies for over-charging
- 360 - new Accountable Care Organizations, providing care to 5.3 million Medicare beneficiaries
- Hundreds, if not thousands, of new Patient Centered Medical Homes
- 236 – Community Health Centers expanded by the ACA extending care to 1.25 million more patients.
- $8.9 Billion – the total amount seniors have saved on drug costs since the ACA passed
- $5000 – the annual savings my family will realize in 2014 thanks to the Small Business Exchanges!
- 3.2% - the annual rate of growth in Medicare spending, the lowest in decades, (the cost curve is bending) and the first time it is BELOW growth rates for our national GDP.
- 23 – the number of states NOT expanding Medicaid, leaving 4.8 Millions Americans without health insurance who were intended to be covered by the ACA
- 298 – days until Election Day. Just sayin’. If you want to see the successes of the ACA built upon, if you want to see the nearly 5 million people eligible for Medicaid gain the coverage that was intended in the ACA, and if you want to see a more high quality and high value health care system, think carefully about how you vote.
The Affordable Care Act is the most significant overhaul to our private, for-profit, health care system since the inception of Medicare. It’s easy to lose sight of the benefits of the law when the media is focused on broken websites (getting better every day) and Americans getting cancellation notices. It may also be easy to forget that our health care system has been broken for quite a while, and it will take a while to right this ship. But I have said before, and I will say again and again, the ACA is going to help ALL Americans have higher quality and less costly health care in the decades to come.