The Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act was signed into law a decade ago by former President Barack Obama, but even after being signed into law it faced countless attacks from political opponents, Supreme Court cases, and even found itself at the center of election debates on the topic of healthcare. However, the biggest challenge the ACA faces might be right now in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which has tested the American healthcare system in ways many could not have foreseen. Meanwhile, conservative politicians and the current Trump administration are calling into question the constitutionality of the law in the Supreme Court, and left wing Democrats are calling for more radical change, in the form of a “single-payer government-run health insurance system.”
So, while facing the reality of a great deal of opposition to the ACA, let’s consider what this law has done for the American people and what its shortcomings may be. For one thing, it has greatly expanded coverage. Whether or not you are a fan of Obamacare, it has increased insurance coverage for 20 million people who were previously without any insurance at all. While this is certainly an improvement, for many Americans the ACA hasn’t gone far enough to curb medical costs, when faced with paying high premiums, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs, which is ultimately considered by creators of Obamacare to be its biggest flaw.
Despite this major affordability setback, the ACA has made healthcare insurance more affordable for people with pre-existing conditions–one of the most well-known protections offered by the ACA. Considering all of these factors, a recent series of studies have indicated that Obamacare has made people in the United States healthier overall. Though it undoubtedly has imperfections, “at this point now there is enough evidence that we can say confidently that giving people health insurance produces health impacts and positive health changes,” according to a physician and researcher at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. While the ACA may not be around forever, it has introduced protections that many Americans will refuse to go without, moving forward.
Sources: NY Times 03/23/2020; NY Times 03/02/2020; National Center For Health Statistics 2019; ASPE 2017; NY Times 03/23/2010