5 Reasons Why Obamacare Has Actually Been Successful As Hell, So Haters Take A Seat
The Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as “Obamacare,” might have passed about six years ago — and without a single Republican vote, might I remind you — but it remains as controversial as ever in the 2016 election to politicians of both parties. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz promises to get rid of Obamacare, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton promises to maintain it, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders vows to expand it into universal healthcare, claiming it currently isn’t enough. Sanders’ point is perfectly valid when you consider how 33 million Americans still currently do not have access to healthcare, but the truth is, all good things could stand to be improved upon, and any room for improvement does little to discredit the new studies effectively proving Obamacare has dramatically improved public health.
The goal Obamacare set out to achieve way back in the early days of the POTUS’s two terms was to “expand health care coverage to the nation’s neediest populations,” as ThinkProgress put it. Through achieving this goal alone, we could already identify Obamacare as successful, but there are a handful of other specific ways it’s succeeded, too.
With Obama’s second term slated to wrap up in less than a year, it’s almost time to start considering what his legacy will be. And when we consider how long in the making a national healthcare program has been for the Democratic party, Obamacare isn’t a shabby legacy to leave, like, at all. I’m more than certain FDR, Harry Truman, and Lyndon B. Johnson would all be quite proud.
So, how exactly has the ACA been — despite what its detractors would say — insanely successful? Let’s run it down:
1. Obamacare has benefited communities of color, in particular
According to a study by The New York Times, 7.2 percent more Hispanics, 6.1 percent more Native Americans, 5.1 percent more African Americans, and 5.4 percent more Asians have health insurance since Obamacare was passed. Minority groups and legal immigrants who experienced increases in healthcare coverage were also disproportionately low-wage workers, showing how Obamacare is effectively addressing the residue of racism and classism from generations ago.
2. It’s helped America’s poorest
According to the same New York Times study, the ACA has also prevented the expansion of a gap in terms of access to healthcare among between low-income and wealthier Americans that has existed for generations. Groups working low-wage jobs and lacking college educations experienced dramatic increases in healthcare coverage.
3. It’s dramatically helped America’s sickest
According to a report by Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which analyzed more than 4.7 million Americans affected by Obamacare, newly insured individuals are more likely to have significant health problems, such as diabetes or HIV. ThinkProgress notes that being affected by these conditions previously would have rendered it almost impossible for individuals to gain access to healthcare.
While many Republicans are quick to write off Obamacare as socialism (which, lest we forget, is the biggest of all insults to them) and gross entitlement, when questioned by individuals affected by all kinds of diseases and health impairments that have received life-changing coverage from Obamacare for their own plans, they quite literally fall silent. (I’m looking at you, Ted Cruz.) Meanwhile, in contrast with this deafening silence from that side of the aisle, Obamacare offers a resounding response to America’s sickest in this latest study.
4. The living standards of those with Obamacare have drastically improved
And according to a study by the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center, under Obamcare, people’s lives have literally gotten better. What does that mean?
Through either the state-level insurance marketplaces it provides or its expansion of Medicaid, insured Americans are more likely than the uninsured to have had a checkup in the past year, and in general, to have a steady source of medical care. This might sound pretty obvious, but what this means overall is that people with Obamacare, according to the study, are “less likely to have unmet medical needs.” They also report being as satisfied with their health plans as individuals with employer-sponsored health plans.
5. Obamacare is specifically reducing debt and poverty
Last but not least, according to a paper produced by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Affordable Care Act has overall reduced Americans’ bills and debt. Researchers from the Bureau reported that Americans who were able to enroll in Medicaid through Obamacare’s expansion of the program slashed their collection balances, or uncleared or uncollected deposits in a bank account, by between $600 and $1000.
In 2014, federal statistics indicated that unpaid medical bills constituted more than half of Americans’ unpaid bills and were dramatically lowering many Americans’ credit scores. By helping to lower medical debts substantially, Obamacare is taking us a step closer to addressing this.