The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, now covers nearly 2 million people in Washington state. Clearly not a failure.
THE Affordable Care Act, in terms of access to health-care coverage, is clearly a success in Washington state.
Enrollment data released last week shows a record number of people bought health insurance through Washington’s insurance marketplace, Washington Healthplanfinder, during the open enrollment period that ended Jan. 31.
Washington has more than 38,000 new people buying insurance through the exchange this year and an additional 60,000 getting free insurance through Washington Apple Health.
Under the Affordable Care Act, nearly 2 million people in Washington state and tens of millions more across the country have health insurance coverage.
State officials estimate the number of uninsured people in Washington state, astoundingly, has dropped below 6 percent. That’s impressive, considering the estimated percentage of uninsured drivers in Washington state is about 16 percent, according to carinsurance.com.
The ACA, also known as Obamacare, is not failing in Washington state.
Not only do more Washingtonians have access to health insurance, new statistics show more young, healthy people have been signing up. More than a quarter of the people who are buying insurance through the Washington exchange this year are 34 or under.
Having young people sharing the risk with older, sicker folks helps ensure the viability of the health insurance market going forward.
Although consumers don’t have a choice of insurance companies in some counties, when companies no longer have to fear that Congress or the president is going to kill the ACA more insurance companies may get into the marketplace.
Now it’s up to Congress to stay out of the way of success and focus instead on making the Affordable Care Act better.
More work should be done on making health insurance affordable, including more accountability for health-care costs. Incentives approved by Congress to keep insurance companies in the marketplace — and potentially attract new ones — should not be forsaken now. Congress could also make it easier for companies to sell insurance across state lines.
But the main principles of the ACA should not be abandoned: more access to health insurance through some government subsidies and Medicaid; coverage for pre-existing conditions; coverage for all, including preventive care and family planning; and insurance through a parent’s policy until age 26.
Congress tried — and failed — to replace the Affordable Care Act. Now those same lawmakers should be focused on making the law better, not destroying it.