It has been said many times before, but bears repeating—the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is doing what it was designed to do. The ACA has succeeded in providing quality healthcare coverage and reducing the number of uninsured, and with its consumer protections, fewer individuals are experiencing trouble paying medical bills. According to a recent Gallup Poll, only Texas maintains an uninsured rate greater than 20% of its residents, no state has reported a statistically significant increase since 2013, and seven states through the first half of 2015 have uninsured rates that are at or below 5%.
Those who oppose the law continue the drum beat that the law is failing, especially as another presidential election heats up, but the research tells a different story.
The positive national findings are confirmed in Michigan according to the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation’s (CHRT) 2014 Cover Michigan Survey. The report stated, “Overall, the number of residents reporting they were uninsured, struggled to pay medical bills and/or delayed seeking needed medical care has dropped significantly compared to CHRT survey findings before the launch of the ACA coverage expansions.” The survey found the percent of adult Michiganders without healthcare coverage declined from 14% in 2012 to 7% in 2014 and that the percent of residents who had difficulty paying medical bills declined from 27% in 2012 to 20% in 2014.
In addition, the ACA has not resulted in the dramatic job losses and reductions in work hours that opponents predicted. A recent analysis by ADP Research Institute, the research arm of a payroll-management firm, found that on an aggregate basis, jobs have not been lost or hours reduced because of requirements of the ACA. An improving economy is seen as having the greatest impact, with full-time jobs increasing by 9% between 2010 and 2015, and part-time jobs decreasing slightly.
There is also good news on health insurance rate increases for plans being sold on the federal Health Insurance Marketplace in 2016. While many states are reporting average increases of more than 10%, for Michigan, the average insurance rate increase approved by the Department of Insurance and Financial Services is only about 6.5%. The approved increases do vary considerably by plan, ranging from an increase of 35.8% to a decrease of 12.6%. The Michigan increase is described as “modest.”
The ACA is not perfect and amending the law could improve its benefits, but this data shows it is achieving its goal. Thanks to the ACA, great gains have been made in health insurance coverage and affordability for moderate and low-income residents without the dire negative impacts and consequences predicted by the law’s opponents.
– Jan Hudson