The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) 2010 HR3590, more commonly known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature law. Passed in the US in 2010, it is a healthcare reform law that improves and expands access to healthcare for millions of Americans. It also helps regulate the health insurance industry and limit the growth of healthcare spending in the country.
Benefits of the Affordable Care Act
Obama’s signature healthcare law offers a new array of benefits, rights, and protections for patients and consumers all across the country through various provisions and reforms to the healthcare system.
- The most recognizable of the ACA’s benefits is the expansion of the coverage for those with pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and HIV/AIDS, among others. Before the ACA was passed, people with these pre-existing conditions were denied health coverage because, as most insurance companies say, they are more expensive to cover than their healthier counterparts.
- Another benefit of the Affordable Care Act is it lowers overall healthcare costs in the long run. It does this by offering preventive health services with no out-of-pocket costs, meaning people will be able to receive treatment before they even need more expensive emergency health services.
- It improves access to health insurance and services for millions of Americans. The ACA has made it possible for young adults to stay under their parents’ health plans until the age of 26. It also expands Medicaid eligibility in 26 states to 138% of the federal poverty level, covering adults without children for the first time. Large businesses are now also required to offer health coverage to full-time employees.
- The ACA offers easier access to health insurance options through online health insurance marketplaces called exchanges. Consumers can easily compare and purchase federally regulated and cost-assisted health plans through the insurance exchanges set up by their state governments or the federal government’s exchange.
Issues with the Affordable Care Act
Although it has benefited millions of Americans who could not afford or were denied health insurance coverage before, it is still faced with various challenges and issues.
- The most criticized part of the Affordable Care Act is its “individual mandate” that requires Americans to purchase health insurance plans or risk paying penalty taxes. According to a letter written by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen addressed to the US Congress, 5 million Americans paid US$3 billion in penalties in 2016.
- Another criticism that the ACA is facing is the previous promise that individuals will be able to keep their current health plans. However, three major health insurers have already backed out of the exchanges. As a result, those who had insurance plans under the companies that dropped out from the ACA will have to change their plans and many consumers are left with little to no choice at all when it comes to health insurance providers and plans in 2017.
- The increasing cost of premiums is also one of the points being scrutinized by those against the healthcare policy. Lack of competition in the health insurance marketplace is among the reasons for the rise in premiums. The “imbalance” between the number of healthy people and those with illnesses who are covered by the insurance plans also means that the costs are not being spread out effectively.
The uncertain future of the ACA
The US healthcare industry has been in a rollercoaster ride for the last seven years. The future of the healthcare reform law is still uncertain in the hands of the new Republican administration and Congress, led by President Donald Trump.
Individual consumers, businesses and insurers are all caught in the middle of two opposing sides – one side pushing for the repeal of the healthcare law and the other fighting to keep it in place. Healthcare industry groups have shown concern regarding the GOP’s decision to retract the ACA without any clear and solid plans to address the possible consequences.
Whether lawmakers opt to repeal-and-delay, repeal-and-replace or just amend the existing ACA provisions, any of these decisions will still translate to changes in policies, regulations, and processes across multiple sectors. These changes will affect not only the millions of individuals covered by ACA-based health plans, but also the insurance companies, hospitals, and even small businesses that all rely on the provisions and regulations set by the Affordable Care Act.
To avoid confusion, stress, and mistakes during these times of uncertain process and policy changes, turning to a dependable healthcare outsourcing company is one of the best ways to make sure that your organization is fully prepared for any possible changes in the healthcare landscape. Always updated with the latest information and technologies, the experts and specialists at Infinit Healthcare are ready to handle concerns and issues about healthcare finance and insurance services so you can spend more time focusing on your organization’s core activities and less time worrying.