An increasing amount of data is pointing to a strong relationship between the introduction of Obamacare and a drop in the rate of Americans who remain without health insurance. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), more widely known as Obamacare, is a government mandate on health insurance that also ties in a subsidy for those who are unable to afford health insurance and do not receive health care benefits through their workplaces.
Because of the penalties threatened by the Act, more uninsured Americans have an incentive after 2010 to make sure they have insurance to cover their health care needs. The enactment of the Affordable Care Act is likely to precede steps toward a universal health care system in which every American, regardless of income, has access to health care at a low price.
The recent downward trend of the number of Americans without health insurance is proof of the ACA's success and could foreshadow a major change in the way health care is handled in the United States.
2010-2015 Impact of Obamacare
President Barack Obama enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act federal statute on March 23, 2010, when the percentage of Americans who remained without health insurance stood at a lofty 16%. The Act rolled out slowly, and U.S. citizens were given deadlines to meet for application, selection of, and payment to a health insurance plan.
Using income and tax information, the Affordable Care Act offers Americans moderate to major subsidies on the price of health insurance. Though the program suffered from technical difficulties in its infant stages, the number of uninsured Americans sunk slightly in 2011 to 15.1%. 2014 saw another significant drop from the declining 14.4% in 2013 to just 11.5%.
|The percentage of uninsured Americans has seen a significant decline since the implementation of Obamacare. Source: whitehouse.gov|
Once 2015 hit, so did another strong slide downward in the rate of uninsured U.S. men and women. At 9.1%, the rate was lower than it had been in many years. 2016 estimates put the rate at just 8.4%. It's a slower decline that the previous year, but continues a trend of lowering uninsured rates and a movement towards total health insurance coverage.
What's the Significance of These Data?
Dropping rates in uninsured Americans means that the future looks bright for general healthcare. As more patients become insured, risks drop for both insurance companies and hospitals because insured patients:
- Are more likely to pay for their treatment
- Are more likely to seek treatment at a healthcare facility
- Provide more capital spread over a higher population to insurance companies
- Provide more comprehensive data used by insurance companies for screening the insured
Additionally, patients will have access to more comprehensive health care for less money, which will force insurance companies to pay on patient benefits more often.
The government subsidy acts as a kind of pseudo-universal health care system. Since the money for subsidies comes from taxes, Americans share the expense equally as a percentage of the money they earn. Those who earn more money can find private insurance they like without using the subsidy, and those who make less money still get minimal coverage at a price they can afford.
The system isn't perfect, but Obamacare provides more widespread healthcare, which could help extend life expectancy and improve overall living conditions in the developed world.