Obamacare, medical, Affordable Health Care

Affordable Health Care Act Gives Healthcare To 15 Million Americans

One possible reason for the marked increase in enrollment is the loss of Medicaid benefits for many Americans.

According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, more Americans used the Affordable Care Act marketplace to obtain insurance this year than in the past.

ABC News reported that the data the Biden-Harris administration published indicates that over 15 million people have enrolled in health insurance plans beginning Jan. 1, 2024. This number represents a 33% increase in enrollment from last year, totaling approximately 11 million. HHS Secretary Xavier Beccara released a statement saying that the jump in enrollment is good news for Americans.

“Millions of Americans signing up for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act is good news. It means more Americans have the peace of mind of knowing that going to the doctor won’t empty their bank account,” Becerra explained. “The Biden-Harris Administration will continue working to expand healthcare coverage and lower prescription drug costs, so taking care of your health is not a luxury.”

The release of the HHS’s numbers follows another update in June, which established that over the life of the ACA, which is now 10 years old, the rate of uninsured Americans in every state has seen a notable decrease. The HHS report attributes this to the policies enacted by the Biden-Harris administration.

“The ACA’s multiple programs have led to an historic expansion of health coverage, with an estimated 40 million people currently enrolled in coverage related to the law. Gains have accelerated since 2021, concurrent with efforts by the Biden‐Harris administration to expand coverage. These efforts include: enhanced subsidies for Marketplace coverage under the American Rescue Plan and later extended by the Inflation Reduction Act; robust outreach efforts to sign up eligible individuals for coverage; and ongoing support for state Medicaid expansions.”

ABC News postulates that another possible reason for the marked increase in enrollment is the loss of Medicaid benefits for many Americans. Indeed, as The Commonwealth Fund reported in August 2023, almost 4 million people lost Medicaid coverage after the government declared COVID-19 as a public health emergency was not renewed. They noted that though many who lost coverage were still eligible for the program, they lost coverage for technical reasons like not having a correct address on file, submitting an incomplete renewal application, or submitting a late application, among other things. According to its reporting, states that did not expand Medicaid coverage for their residents created a healthcare affordability problem for their citizens, despite the federal government covering 90% of the costs for states to expand the program. 

Another factor in the increased enrollment of Americans into Affordable Health Care under the Biden-Harris administration is what happened to people’s insurance coverage under the Trump administration. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 13.7% of American adults were without insurance. Though ABC News indicates that that figure is lower than what the ACA engendered, it came at the cost of the end of the cost-sharing reduction and a cut back on enrollment outreach while eliminating the penalty for non-enrollment that the ACA imposed. Donald Trump has indicated via his Truth Social platform that he intends to eliminate the ACA altogether and replace it with his own plan if he is elected as president. 

As the Center for American Progress indicated in a Sept. 2020 article, Trump’s healthcare plan did none of the things that he promised it would. First, millions of Americans lost coverage between 2016 and 2019; the lawsuit he helped get to the Supreme Court, if successful, would eliminate consumer protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions and drive up the cost of healthcare in America. The Trump administration also facilitated the addition of work requirements to the Medicaid program, which did nothing but make coverage losses more common. 

Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), noted, “More than 15.3 million people have signed up for Health Insurance Marketplace plans in states that use HealthCare.gov, an impressive 33% increase compared to this time last year.”

Brooks-LaSure added, “The Marketplace clearly meets an important need in Americans’ lives, making access to healthcare possible for adults and their children. The Affordable Care Act connects more people to preventive and life-saving care, helping more people and their families live the American dream. We look forward to continuing to get people enrolled ahead of the January 16 deadline.” The next update to the federal government’s numbers will come on Jan. 10, 2024, including state-specific plan selections. 

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