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.
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.