Top 6 Achievements of Obamacare: (Hint, millions more insured)

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Now that the Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obamacare) has beaten back all judicial challenges, it is worth revisiting its vast success. A single-payer system would have been far preferable. But the present system is substantially better than nothing. As Jay Bookman pointed out in early May in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, none of the dire predictions of its critics have come true. There has been no jump in health-care costs. In fact, medical inflation has leveled off. The number of people who lost their insurance was no higher after the advent of Obamacare than it had been in previous years. It hasn’t killed employment– rather employment is up. Let us consider the success of the ACA.

1. Rand reports that in summer of 2013, there were 42 million uninsured Americans. By February of 2015, that number had fallen to 25.8 million. That is, nearly 17 million more Americans have health care than before Obamacare.

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2. With regard to percentages, the country’s uninsured rate was 17.1% in 2013, and it declined dramatically to 11.9% during the first quarter of 2015.

3. People without health care are in a very uncertain situation– they could have a medical emergency any time, and they have nothing to pay the hospital with. They also don’t get preventive care because they don’t pay to go see a doctor if they don’t have to. Obamacare will save an estimated 24,000 lives a year.

4. The International Business Times observed on the implications of the law for racial equality that:

“All racial and ethnic groups showed gains in coverage, but the biggest improvement came among minority groups. The uninsured rate for Hispanics dropped by more than 12 percent; African-American uninsured rates fell more than 9 percent and white uninsured rates fell more than 5 percent.”

5. Women have been especially helped by Obamacare. They now pay the same premiums as men, which did not used to be the case. Even by early January, there had been a 5.5% decline in the number of uninsured women since 2013:

“Up until last year, insurance companies could — and often did — charge women different premiums than men for the same coverage. As of January 1, 2014, the ACA prohibits this gender discrimination. In part because of improved options and affordability, today’s report outlines a significant 5.5 percentage point decline in the uninsured rate among women between the ages of 18 and 64 since 2013.”

6. Many more children how have health care. It had earlier been found that:

“New research documents the long-term benefits of Medicaid coverage in childhood. The National Bureau of Economic Research compared children eligible for Medicaid during childhood to their non-eligible peers and found that the Medicaid-eligible children were more likely to attend college, make greater contributions as adult taxpayers, and live longer than those without coverage.”

Obamacare, some of which is covered by medicaid expansion in sane states, should have the same effect, enriching these lives and enriching us all.

10 Responses

  1. Obamacare was Romneycare first and that’s why the Supreme Court won’t kill it. The only reason it’s been a “success” is because of the subsidies. Without them it would be a bust. That shows the bankruptcy of it. Of course you’re right that a single payer system would be preferable. There would be no need for subsidies. The fact is Obama made backroom deals with Big Pharma to get Obamacare. It was as much as he could get with Big Pharma in control of our health. Its profits would be ensured on the backs of working people in desperate need of coverage. As it is, people are being coerced to buy this overpriced insurance on pain of paying a penalty at tax time. Some are deciding the penalty is worth it because they don’t want to pay through the nose for the plans. Obamacare is a fraud and its “success” is not at all a sure bet, what with so many Americans still uninsured because there’s nothing affordable about it. If plan prices keep going up, people will start abandoning it because they can barely afford the premiums now, even with the subsidies.

    • An unpleasant aspect of current discussions about politics & policy is the refusal of partisans like ArminG (call me Locked&lodeD) to accept facts.

      We are inch by inch becoming a more progressive & compassionate nation. Social Security, Medicare, the ACA . . . we are on a roll!

  2. ArminG,

    Obama did indeed, as you note, make back room deals with big Pharma. He made back room deals too with health-insurance companies. And on top of that, though he was publicly proclaiming the opposite, he also put the squelch on single-payer. None of this, of course, was properly reported in the corporate press.

    At the time it was going down, this infuriated me. But Paul Krugman takes the view that in the current American political context these were unavoidable compromises to get health-care reform enacted. A case of not letting the perfect be enemy of the good. And in view of how well the ACA is performing, my view has mellowed about the White Houses’s secret back room deals with these corporate interests.

  3. Thanks to the ACA, my neighbor gets insurance for 40$ a month. The ACA made me eligible for Medicaid. I’ve gotten dental work, cataract surgery, and am being screened for serious eye problems. Before, I could’ve had the cataract surgery at a county hospital, but the Medicaid gives me more options. The ACA has clearly helped a lot of low income people.

  4. Obama said it himself during a debate in ’08. The problem with our healthcare system is that people cannot afford it. His answer? A republican plan that has the govt offering consumers $$ to turn around and hand to the the guy who comes in every month and demands a “protection” payment. The US system is little more than extortion. It hammers the most vulnerable, the sick and the desperate, and it gets cover to do so from corrupt politicians who have been bought off. Hooray! More people have access to this extortion!

  5. We need a national health program, analogous to improved Medicare for everyone, but we will not obtain it until a state or two do so. Politicians need to see that supporting it is compatible with political survival and the country needs to see that it saves money. Fifteen or so states are working toward that goal. I refer you to Physicians for a National Health Program ( and

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