Bioethics Blogs

ACA Report Card: One Year of Obamacare and the Individual Insurance Mandate

by Craig M. Klugman

The United States has passed a milestone, the first year of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandate. This is the requirement that all U.S. residents have health insurance whether through an employer, an organization, or via the insurance marketplaces. Opponents of the ACA (also known as “Obamacare”) feared that this act would destroy the country by decimating the economy, creating a federal government takeover of healthcare, forcing employers to drop coverage, workers quitting who no longer need their employer-based health insurance, and companies cutting workers to stay below minimum thresholds.

The results of the first year are positive. There are increases in people with insurance coverage, increases in access to medical services, and increase filling of prescriptions. There was also a decrease in consumer stress about being able to pay for medical care.

One year in and the sky has not fallen. A report by the Commonwealth Fund has found a 5% decrease in uninsured adults (ages 19-64). In young adults (ages 19-34), the uninsured rate is now 18% compared to 28 percent a year before. And among Latinos, the uninsured rate is 23%, down from 36%. In regards to individuals under 138 percent of the poverty line, the uninsured rate dropped to 24 percent from 35 percent. And of people who visit the insurance marketplaces, a full 51% enroll in a plan.

Of those who bought insurance through the marketplaces, 60% found it easy to pay their premium, 60% used their new plan to visit a doctor or hospital, or to fill a prescription.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.