Record numbers are signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, even as Congress plots to dump it.
DESPITE the uptick in congressional threats against the Affordable Care Act since the election, people who need health insurance haven’t stopped enrolling. They are signing up through state and national exchanges in greater numbers than ever.
Yes, there are ways Congress could improve the Affordable Care Act, including seeking a way to make health insurance more affordable for all. But Obamacare is fulfilling its mission to help many thousand Americans get health insurance.
Insurance sign-ups on Washington Healthplanfinder during this enrollment period are about 13 percent ahead of last year, with more than 27,000 new customers buying insurance on the state exchange. Individuals have until Jan. 31 to sign up for health insurance during open enrollment.
Enrollment is also up nationally, with more than 400,000 new people signing up for health insurance this year than during the previous enrollment period. The Obama administration says more than 6 million people signed up for subsidized private health insurance by this fall. Many would not have had access to private insurance before the Affordable Care Act and do not want Congress to abandon the ACA without first finding a better alternative.
About 154 million Americans get insurance through an employer. The uninsured rate for non-elderly Americans fell from about 16.6 percent in 2013 to 10 percent in the first quarter of 2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Slightly fewer than 29 million Americans remain uninsured, about half of whom would benefit from provisions of the ACA.
The people who run Washington’s hospitals agree that Obamacare has helped make the state healthier. It has enabled 600,000 lower-income Washington residents to get insurance through the Medicaid program, and thousands more are able to buy private insurance because of the government subsidy.
The Medicaid expansion is one of the best parts of Obamacare, but not the only reason members of the public want to retain the health-insurance law. A poll this fall by the Kaiser Family Foundation found only 37 percent believe repealing the Affordable Care Act should be a top priority. They put a higher priority on lower drug prices and better health-insurance coverage that is more affordable.
In addition to signing up for insurance in record numbers, people should be letting Congress know in other ways, including letters and phone calls, that the Affordable Care Act should be improved, not abandoned.
If you have health insurance through work or Medicare, please recognize that every American should have access to medical care. The Affordable Care Act has made that happen for millions of Americans.