Obamacare has turned 5 and the journey has been far from comfortable. Fortunately amid challenges from opposition, a dysfunctional initial rollout, and slow acceptance of the law, Obamacare has still achieved what it set out to five years earlier, even if there is a lot more ground to cover in the coming years. Owing to the law, the US healthcare industry has seen massive improvement in the way healthcare is availed. At the completion of five years, here are 5 numbers that show the major strides of the government, the impact of the law, and the avenues that require attention in the coming years.
1) 16.4 million have enrolled through Obamacare marketplaces – The biggest achievement the ACA has delivered is the mammoth 16.4 million enrollments through the exchanges in two open enrollment seasons. When ACA was implemented, 47 million people did not have health insurance. Although the number continued to grow over the years, 16.4 million of those people found affordable health insurance through exchanges. Out of these, as many as 85 percent were able to avail subsidies and cost assistance from the government for keeping their health insurance premiums in check.
2) $7.4 billion dollars were saved by Hospitals in uncompensated costs – Combining the effect of health insurance marketplaces and Medicaid expansion, hospitals have been able to save $7.4 billion in uncompensated costs. Before ACA, hospitals have covered insurance care for uninsured and underinsured. Hospitals delivered about $50 billion in uncompensated care in 2013. Medicaid expansion under ACA has also played a major role in cost savings. For instance, states that expanded Medicaid experienced a 26 percent reduction in their costs, while states that did not expand Medicaid experienced only a 16 percent reduction.
3) 29 States and DC expanded Medicaid to complement the coverage net of ACA – Medicaid expansion was a crucial aspect of the working of the ACA. Although the U.S. Supreme Court shot down the mandatory expansion of Medicaid under ACA, it left states with a choice to support the law through expansion. 29 states and DC expanded Medicaid to cover healthcare costs, and these states were able to observe a huge improvement in their healthcare cost savings and coverage net. People did not fall into the coverage gap, which opened up in states that decided not to expand Medicaid.
4) $88 billion has been foregone by States that decided not to expand Medicaid – The remaining states which decided not to expand Medicaid left their residents between a rock and a hard place. At the same time, these states let go of $88 million in federal grants, which they would have received between 2014 and 2016 if they had decided to expand Medicaid in their state. With a limited healthcare system of these states, residents will be less likely to use medical services, which would ultimately impact the contribution to national economic growth. Without Medicaid, a lot of people will not use medical services, and this will play a detrimental role in the coming years. For instance, by 2023, Florida will lose out on $270 billion national economic impact because it did not expand Medicaid.
5) $1.2 trillion will be Obamacare’s cost for the next decade – Owing to a close check on healthcare spending and healthcare costs, Obamacare will be costing about 11 percent less than earlier estimates. Over the next decade, $1.2 trillion will be spent on Obamacare. Other than the control of ACA on healthcare spending, lower costs of health insurance subsidies will contribute to lower spending. Assuming that the law lasts for that long and is not strangled by the Republican repeal efforts, there is a lot Obamacare can change in the healthcare system.