How the ACA will bring fairness back to health insurance

A new Commonwealth Fund report released yesterday tackles the existing health insurance inequities between people with higher and lower incomes.

The report finds that, nationally, nearly 3 in 5 adults in families earning less than 133% percent of the federal poverty level (about $14,000 per year for an individual) were uninsured at some point in 2011, and 2 in 5 were uninsured for one or more years.   Low- and moderate-income adults who were uninsured during the year were also found to be much less likely to have a regular doctor or source of health care than other folks in their income range who had insurance all year.  Uninsured lower-income adults were also found to be more likely to use hospital emergency rooms for things other than emergencies.

This isn’t surprising – people at low income levels really have no other option for insurance than Medicaid, and most states really only cover the lowest-income adults, and only then if they have children.  In most states, adults who don’t get insurance through their jobs have few options for coverage.  And, we all know that without health insurance, getting regular, affordable healthcare can be a pretty daunting task.

 The report also talks about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is set to substantially reduce these inequities in a number of ways, including expanding Medicaid coverage, expanding dependent coverage to adults up to age 26, and insurance market changes related to the forthcoming health insurance exchanges.

It’s a worthwhile read – be sure to check it out if you get the chance.

Click here to read the new Commonwealth Fund report, titled “The Income Divide in Health Care: How the Affordable Care Act Will Help Restore Fairness to the U.S. Health System”

With the ongoing GOP presidential debates there’s been so much negativity floating around the health reform conversation.  So, it’s nice when every now and then something positive is able to break through all the rhetoric.

This week, Harris Interactive/Health Day released the results of their latest poll on health reform.  Naturally, they did find that Americans are sharply divided when it comes to their opinions on the Affordable Care Act.  But, it turns out that more folks seem to be coming around to the many different parts of the law.  For example:

  • 57% of Americans polled favor allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they turn 26.  This is up from 55% in Nov. 2010.
  • 59% favor creating insurance exchanges where people can shop for insurance – up from 51%.
  • 70% favor providing tax credits to small businesses to help pay for their employees’ insurance – a big increase from 60% in November 2010.
  • 53% favor requiring all employers with 50 or more employees to offer insurance to their employees or pay a penalty – up from 48%.
  • 53% favor requiring research to measure the effectiveness of different treatments, up from just 44%.
  • 38% also favor creating a new Independent Payment Advisory Board to limit the growth of Medicare spending – up from 32%.

Granted, that’s not to say that folks favor EVERYTHING about the law.  In terms of the requirement that everyone buy insurance, that one didn’t budge.  Only 19% of folks fully support that one, a number which hasn’t changed at all since the last poll (22% of folks say they’re not sure what they think about that).

Anyways, it’s not all pretty, but it’s pretty interesting nonetheless.  Here’s a link to Harris’ press relase, if you would like to learn more, and a link to a related article from Health Day.