The Affordable Care Act isn’t too popular with the American public. In the latest tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 47 percent of respondents said they view the law unfavorably, while 35 percent said they view it favorably. These numbers should not be surprising as the figures are similar to what other surveys have found.
Although the ACA has flaws, the data tells a different story-that if you focus on the big picture, it’s working exactly as it should. Below are a few reasons explaining how it’s working:
- More people have health insurance. The primary goal of the ACA was to gain coverage for the uninsured and we now have evidence that it has done exactly that. According to a series of surveys from independent research organizations, including the Commonwealth Fund, Gallup, the Rand Corporation and the Urban Institute, the number of people without insurance decreased by 10 to 12 million. Hospitals are also reporting seeing fewer and fewer uninsured patients.
- People who are getting health insurance are better off. Two recent studies show that that people who have health insurance are better off. The first study was a major study of Medicaid, based on data from Oregon. Researchers determined that people who got health insurance from the program were significantly less likely to experience financial distress and more likely to report better mental health. Another study, using data from Massachussetts and its expansion of health insurance, found improvements in economic security, mental health, and physical health. A survey from the Commonwealth Fund found that 60 percent of people who got new coverage on the marketplaces had used their insurance to pay for services and 62 percent said they could not have paid for such care previously.
- Winners outnumber the losers in the new marketplaces. Although the HealthCare.gov website got off to a rough start, it was the plan cancellations and raised premiums that caused the most problems. However, the new law provides tax credits which, in most cases, offset part or all of the increase for most people and reduces the price of coverage for people who once paid higher rates because they were older or in poor health. Overall, people paid less for their insurance in 2014 than in 2013. The best evidence comes from the Kaiser Foundation; of those people, 46 percent of respondents said they were paying less, 39 percent said they were paying more, and 15 percent said they paid the same. A Commonwealth Survey found that 68 percent of people buying marketplace plans rated them at “good” or better.