Americans are beginning to feel the impact of the recently implemented Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as “Obamacare.” This impact includes a list of good, bad, and ugly consequences that Americans are just now starting to sort through.
Some individuals are losing their current plans, some are gaining new coverage, and some wonder whether their coverage will or will not change.
For years the Obama administration has insisted that no one would lose coverage, despite the fact that at least 3.5 million Americans have received cancellation notices. Many officials claim that these individuals’ coverage is being “transitioned” into better coverage plans, rather than actually being canceled.
President Obama recently stated that this problem only affects about 5 percent of the population, those who have “cut-rate plans.” However, in a nation with over 300 million people, that 5 percent actually equals about 15 million Americans.
Another side of the coin is considered to be a “pro” of the new law. An expanded version of Medicaid that has been offered to and embraced by 25 states so far, Alabama not included.
In a recent survey the Associated Press found that in 14 of those states at least 240,000 Americans had applied for the program as of its third week in effect.
Another segment of the population affected, which accounts for about 50% of Americans, are those with employer-provided health insurance. They too have been reassured by the administration that their coverage will not change.
However, in 2018 a new tax will be implemented on companies with expensive insurance plans. This is resulting in some companies raising deductibles and co-payments for employees, while blaming the new law and potential tax. Some experts wonder whether many of these companies’ claims will actually be warranted.
Other changes include that young adults can now stay on their parents’ coverage until they’re 26 years old (a win for us college students). Insurers can no longer deny or raise costs on individuals with preexisting medical conditions. Also, employers now cover birth control, screenings, and other preventive services free of charge.
In Alabama, the governor has opted out of the Medicaid expansion. A study conducted at UAB found that if Alabama opted into the program approximately 300,000 Alabamians would be able to receive healthcare coverage for the first time.
Moreover, the new program would not cost the State of Alabama anything for the first three years. Thereafter, Alabama’s share would incrementally rise to its cap of 10 percent in 2020 and would result in a $1.5 billion per year increase to the State’s economy.
Anytime that you have a 906-page bill that is hurriedly rushed through the legislative branch, there are going to be plenty of unintended consequences, both good and bad. However, as many Democrats continue to note, the bill is now the law of the land.
My hope is that leaders in federal, state, and local governments will come together and sort through the good and the bad to make this law a little less ugly.