Affordable Care Act pros and cons are hard to decipher given its politicization since being signed into law. Here is what both sides think about the ACA. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
A Brief History of the Affordable Care Act
In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law. Informally known as Obamacare, the goal was to provide cheaper health insurance coverage to all US citizens. The ACA also tried to protect buyers against costly or narrow insurance policies. Millions of Americans received insurance coverage through the ACA. Some were unemployed. Some had minimum wage jobs. Others couldn’t work because of a disability. With that said, the ACA has been highly controversial.
President Barack Obama signed the ACA into law. It is one of the biggest healthcare regulatory overhauls in decades. Experts compare the ACA to the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 in terms of its impact. Therefore, both before and after passage, the ACA faced legal challenges. The federal health insurance exchange, HealthCare.gov, also initially had technical issues. Ultimately, by 2017 more than half of Americans supported the ACA. Recently, it faced headwinds during the Trump administration. Joe Biden has pledged to “Build on Obamacare.” This back and forth highlights the political nature of the ACA. It also makes the benefits and shortfalls hard to follow. Here are Affordable Care Act pros and cons.
Affordable Care Act Pros
Let’s begin with the pros of the Affordable Care Act. After early hurdles, the ACA’s major services came into play in 2014. In 2016, the share of uninsured people in the United States fell by roughly half. Estimates from the US Department of Health and Human Services show that 20-24 million additional Americans received coverage. This was largely because healthcare became more affordable. Insurance companies were also forced to spend eight cents of every dollar for premiums on medical care and improvements.
The ACA made it possible for those with preexisting conditions to receive coverage as well. Previously, if someone had cancer, for example, it would have been hard for them to get health insurance. Another pro of the Affordable Care Act was that there were no time limits on care. The ACA also covered more screenings and preventative services. The goal was to identify problems sooner so they cost less later. Under the ACA, prescription drugs were supposed to cost less. This final bullet point didn’t fully come to light.
Affordable Care Act Cons
There are cons to the Affordable Care Act, too. For example, Americans have to pay higher fees. This is because insurance companies now cover those with preexisting conditions. This raised fees for those who already had insurance. Americans also received fines if they didn’t have insurance. Again, in order to expand coverage, the ACA needed funding. This came through forced enrollment. Some believe the government has no right to require health insurance.
Taxes also increased under the Affordable Care Act. For example, medical device and drug sales taxes rose. Lastly, some employers also cut worker hours to avoid paying for coverage. Businesses with 50 or more full-time staff members had to offer insurance. Some businesses reduced hours to stay under this threshold.
What Both Sides Are Saying
Democrats support the ACA. According to their website, they believe it pushed the country one step closer to universal health care. Democrats note that they were the party that passed Medicare and Medicaid. It is therefore fitting that they passed the ACA, as well. Democrats are proud of the well-rounded health reform. They say it has expanded coverage, especially for young adults. Democrats also believe the ACA helped address bias in the healthcare marketplace. They note that “nearly 8 in 10 Americans who recently shopped for health insurance in the marketplace could get it for less than $100 per month.”
Republicans oppose the Affordable Care Act. Conservative groups believe the law disrupts existing health plans. The Tea Party movement claimed the ACA increased federal debt. Small businesses have also taken issue with increased costs for the new insurance standards. Before and during his presidency, Donald Trump promised to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. Labor Unions also pushed back against the ACA, saying it was driving up the cost of coverage. Lastly, in March 2012, the Roman Catholic Church voiced concerns about the ACA’s birth control mandate.