In case you haven’t heard – over seven million Americans have enrolled in private health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The numbers are still coming in, so this number will continue to grow as state-based Marketplaces as well as Medicaid and CHIP enrollment is added up. The numbers alone tell a great success story, but some news reports are quibbling about whether these numbers reflect previously uninsured Americans or people choosing to switch plans.
The goal of the health care law is to ensure that everyone has access to high-quality health insurance that fits their budget. Before the law, many people didn’t have any health insurance and others – women, in particular – paid high premiums for skimpy coverage.
Women who already had health insurance have a lot to gain by purchasing their coverage through the new Marketplaces. The individual market has long discriminated against women by charging them higher premiums just because they’re women and excluding coverage of important services like maternity care. Now, women no longer have to worry that they will be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition or dropped from coverage when they get sick. They will know that their coverage won’t run out when they need it most and they won’t have to worry that burdensome out-of-pocket expenses will prevent them from receiving the care they need.
Here are just a few examples of the millions of women who stand to benefit from better insurance coverage through the ACA:
- Erin M. of New Mexico is self-employed and had health insurance she bought on her own, but she still didn’t have coverage for maternity care since she could not afford to add a maternity rider on her insurance plan. Now, the health insurance Erin can buy on the Marketplace will have to provide maternity care as well as other essential health benefits.
- Gail G. of Wisconsin is self-employed and has purchased coverage for herself and her husband on the individual market. Their policy covered only part of her husband’s treatment for cataracts and kidney stones, leaving them with $18,000 in medical expenses that they had to pay using a home equity line of credit. This was on top of the $3,000 a year they paid for his prescription medications, since their policy did not include drug coverage. Thanks to the ACA, health plans now sold on the Marketplace will need to include prescription drug coverage and have limits on the out of pocket spending for consumers.
These are just two examples – but many, many more exist.
The success of the ACA doesn’t solely hinge on whether new enrollees were previously insured or not. Success should also be determined by whether Americans are getting high-quality, comprehensive coverage they can afford – which all 7 million of the new enrollees now have.