On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into a law, putting into motion a series of ups and downs that radically transformed healthcare and health insurance coverage in America. After 5 years of Obamacare operation, we have come far from a fledgling law that saw unequivocal opposition from multiple sources. Today, Obamacare supports 16.4 million enrollees with affordable health coverage through fully functional health insurance marketplaces at federal and state levels. And that’s not the only thing the law is doing for the country.
Of the people who enrolled through marketplaces, almost 87 percent people were able to get premium tax credits and cost sharing subsidies on their health insurance. The millions of dollars put aside by the administration for these subsidies defined the coverage status for families, which could not afford health insurance before. The benefits do not stop there. For people who used to pay thousands of dollars in healthcare for preexisting medical conditions, the ACA worked out to be a saving grace that stopped discrimination against them on the basis of their health. Insurance companies cannot deny people coverage, neither can they charge chronically ill people higher than healthy people. Individual cases where Obamacare literally transformed into a life savior are way too many, and with these subsidies on line, ironically on the 5 year anniversary of the law, the future of the law is uncertain.
The ACA has not forgotten the quality of coverage received by those who utilize their health insurance coverage. Screening for chronic diseases is not chargeable. In fact, some employer-sponsored programs are offering incentives to employees for undergoing routine checkups. The workplace wellness programs are working in favor of employees by offering them a chance to stay healthy at workplace, thereby reducing the healthcare spending by employers, resulting in a win-win situation for both. At the same time, the Obama administration is working with insurance carriers to provide better solutions and offerings through the marketplaces.
Seniors are now paying lesser for their drug costs, and young individuals can stay on their parents’ plan until the age of 26. All these small changes to the way healthcare coverage functions in America are making a huge difference to areas that have traditionally been ignored. As a result, we are moving to a healthier nation, where the health reform is helping people live healthier lives.
However, after these 5 years of Obamacare operation, there still are some issues that need addressing. Some workplace wellness programs have started discriminating against people on the basis of their current health. For instance, overweight people are being assigned weight goals, non-fulfilment of which would result in higher insurance premiums for these employees. This masked form of discrimination is surfacing, and the administration needs to address before it becomes more widespread.
Republicans are targeting the functioning of the law again, and with Congress under their wing, they might do some serious damage to the law. The Supreme Court subsidy challenge is another simultaneous looming challenge that could wreak havoc on the subsidies that connect millions to affordable health coverage. It’s time for the administration to revisit the law and strategize to overcome these potential challenges before they become major hurdles to progress on healthcare.