Happy Birthday to the Affordable Care Act!

Posted March, 23 2020 by Amanda Dunker

Today marks ten years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since then, the ACA has helped over 20 million Americans enroll in health insurance.

This year in New York, nearly five million people used the NY State of Health to enroll in health insurance. Before the ACA, there was no central location to shop for health insurance plans. Almost 800,000 people enrolled in the Essential Plan this year, which did not exist before the ACA. Over three million enrolled in Medicaid, which was expanded through the ACA. And around 273,000 people purchased Qualified Health Plans, 58 percent of whom received advance premium tax credits through the ACA. No one who enrolled in these health insurance plans had to answer questions about their previous health conditions – because under the ACA, anyone can buy insurance no matter what their pre-existing conditions are.

The ACA has also meant higher quality coverage. Under the current federal administration, some states have opted to loosen their health insurance standards. But in New York, paying a premium still means getting a plan that covers a comprehensive set of benefits including prescription drugs, maternity and newborn care, and preventive health screenings and visits. Insurers are no longer allowed to impose lifetime or annual coverage limits, a common pre-ACA practice that stopped coverage when people needed it most.

There’s a lot that could be improved upon in the ACA. For example, HCFANY supports higher income limits for premium subsidies and supplemental premium subsidies funded by the state. Deductibles are too high for many New Yorkers. Network standards are not high enough. But after ten years, evidence has poured in on the law’s benefits: the ACA has reduced racial health disparities (link), kept struggling community hospitals open (link), and made America healthier (link). We are so grateful to all the people who fought to make the ACA happen – and we’re dedicated to protecting and building off of what they won.