Since the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010, it has transformed the nation’s health insurance system. The ACA offers important consumer protections, makes it easier for people to get affordable coverage and lowers health care costs by changing how medical services are paid for.
Before the ACA, insurers could deny coverage or charge more for pre-existing conditions. They also could impose lifetime limits on the amount they would pay for your care or cancel your coverage for any reason, even an innocent mistake like forgetting to check a box on an application. Under the ACA, these unfair practices are illegal.
In addition to ending these abuses, the ACA makes it easier for people to get affordable health insurance and better quality care. It provides tax credits to help pay for coverage, creates marketplaces where insurers compete for your business and requires them to spend at least 80% of your premium dollar on health care benefits and quality improvements rather than on advertising, overhead and bonuses for executives. It also allows you to appeal decisions by health insurance companies that deny claims or limit your care.
The ACA expanded Medicaid to cover more low-income people and helped small businesses afford coverage for their workers. It has ended the practice of limiting access to certain types of birth control and other reproductive health services, and it established a long-term care program that can help people with chronic illnesses receive home health aid, adult day services and community support.
Millions of Americans now have access to affordable health coverage through the ACA, including private insurance plans and subsidized public coverage programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Previously, the high cost of health insurance kept as many as 48 million people out of the market. The ACA has dramatically reduced that number by expanding access to affordable coverage, while at the same time putting in place financial penalties for those who choose not to obtain health insurance.
Despite repeated attacks from Republicans who pledge to repeal and replace the ACA, the Supreme Court has upheld its constitutionality in several decisions, most recently in 2021. The ACA is working for the American people, and we need to make sure it continues to do so by continuing to improve the law’s effectiveness through evaluation, innovation and collaboration across all stakeholders in our health system. This includes making it more financially viable for small businesses to offer coverage and increasing the ability of consumers to switch between plans through open enrollment each year, which runs Nov. 1 through Jan. 15 every year.