A year after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been "fully in place," the New York Times has released a series of articles analyzing its effectiveness. The articles covers the number of uninsured Americans, whether insurance has truly been affordable under the law, and whether the online exchanges will be working better this year.
The Number of Uninsured Americans Has Dropped Significantly
The primary goal of the ACA was to reduce the number of uninsured Americans. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) originally predicted that 6 million Americans would be covered by the health insurance Marketplace in 2014.
After open enrollment ended in March, the official enrollment count was 8,019,763 in April. In September, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that enrollment held steady at 7.3 million, and had exceeded the CBO’s original estimates.
More than half of the people who bought insurance through the health insurance Marketplaces were previously uninsured, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. According to the New York Times, the number of uninsured Americans has decreased by 25 percent this year, or what they estimate to be eight to 11 million people. Chart: The New York Times
While the percentage of decline varies based upon the source. Gallup reported a decline from 18 to 13 percent in the rate of uninsured Americans, while the Urban Institute shows a more modest decline to 14 percent.
Has Health Insurance Been More Affordable under the ACA?
Another primary goal of the ACA was making health insurance more affordable for Americans to obtain. According to the New York Times, a majority (85 percent) of the 7.3 million individuals who signed up for individual health insurance through the health insurance Marketplaces qualified for premium tax credits to help them with the cost of their premiums.
In June, a release from the Department of Health and Human Services revealed that with premium tax credits applied, the average Marketplace health insurance policy costs $82 per month.
According to the New York Times article, however, although the premiums have been more affordable for many, "high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs have discouraged some people from using their insurance."
How Has the Healthcare Industry Fared under the Law?
According to the New York Times article, "Wall Street analysts and health care experts say, the industry appears to be largely flourishing, in part because of the additional business the law created." The article points out that by measure of the stock market, health insurers, hospitals, and drug companies did well this year.
With more Americans covered in 2014 due to the ACA, there have been significantly less uncompensated care costs for hospitals nationwide. A recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that hospital uncompensated care costs will be $5.7 billion lower in 2014 than they otherwise would have been, due to the decrease in uninsured individuals.