The Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” is likely one of the most divisive pieces of legislation in recent political history. The fight to get the bill passed in the first place was long, featuring a filibuster by Ted Cruz, a Supreme Court battle, and a government shutdown to avoid funding the bill. The act finally went into effect in 2010, but now is on the cusp of being repealed by the Republican members of Congress that opposed it from the start and President-Elect Donald Trump who has pledged to repeal the law while keeping the parts that work. While the number of people with insurance went up after the law went into effect, insurance companies did not see the profit benefits they were supposed to see and started to raise premiums on the public — all despite the questionable ethics behind making money off of something meant to be required of all Americans.
Despite all of the negative press and the unsure future for the law, Thursday saw a record number of Americans sign up for coverage using the Healthcare.Gov exchange according to NBC News:
Obama plugged the health insurance marketplace, the centerpiece of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, in his last press conference of the year before heading to Hawaii for vacation.
“Yesterday was the biggest day ever for Healthcare.gov. More than 670,000 Americans signed up to get coverage,” Obama said.
The demand has forced the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to extend the deadline for signing up for healthcare in 2017. It also raises questions about the criticisms of the law and how it applies to the majority of people using the health care exchange according to NBC:
Premiums have risen as insurance companies taking part in the exchanges have struggled to make the profits they seek with the other restrictions imposed by the law. Obamacare limits the ability to charge higher premiums for women and older people, and it forces insurers to take all comers, even people who are already sick.
But the publicity over higher premiums didn’t seem to scare off new customers. The Department of Health and Human Services said more than 4 million people have signed up for coverage on Healthcare.gov, compared to about 2.8 million enrollments by the first week of December last year. That includes 1.1 million people not covered before and 2.9 million renewals.
Most people who buy private insurance on the health insurance marketplaces get a hefty federal subsidy to help pay the premiums. An analysis by the Center for Health and Economy found those subsidies would cost $42.6 billion next year, an increase of nearly $10 billion over this year.
While the law is certainly not perfect, its future might not be as grim following these numbers. If members of Congress ignore the public response of millions using the law or at least don’t take them into consideration when the time comes to replace the law they may repeal, it could be a moment that changes their fortunes in 2018.
(Via NBC News)