Is Healthcare Proving Really Affordable in the US? | DCR Workforce Blog

Is Healthcare Proving Really Affordable in the US?

Under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), the number of hospitalizations for the non-elderly adults stayed essentially at the same level over a three-year study conducted in Michigan by the University of Michigan. There was also a significant drop in the number of uninsured patients seeking treatment at hospitals making them worry a lot less about going uncompensated after treating uninsured patients, who aren’t financially able to pay for their treatment or hospitalization costs.

One study found that unpaid hospital care costs declined by nearly $6 billion nationwide in 2014, with almost all of the decreases occurring in Medicaid expansion states. The total savings represent a 17% decrease in national healthcare costs from 2013, the year before Medicaid expansions took place. Conversely, another study found that the federal forecast of national health care spending under the ACA was off by $2.6 trillion over a five-year period! With more Americans having health coverage and greater access to medical care, the country as a whole is spending less money than expected, and will continue doing so for at least the next several years.

Healthcare is now affordable

Currently, the cost of healthcare for a family of four with employer-sponsored insurance stands at around $25,826, up from $8,414 in 2001. But a recent Gallup survey shows that Americans feel that they are in a position to afford the bills and that the ACA has played a major role in bringing health care insecurity down. As witness, we find that:

  • Only 15.5% (the lowest since 2008) felt they couldn’t afford the healthcare or medicine they needed. This number stood at 18.7% in 2013 and has been steadily declining year over year. Overall, the percentage of U.S. adults with healthcare insecurity has dropped 3.5 percentage points since the fourth quarter of 2013.
  • The plans offered through the ACA exchange may not be cheap, but the subsidies available to most people who purchase such plans make them far less expensive than what was available to them before Obamacare.
  • The percentage of uninsured Americans has fallen to 11% in the first quarter of 2016 from 17.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Uninsured Rate for Working-Age Adults Decreases
[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

Three years into the implementation of national health reform under the ACA, some consumers still hesitate to take on the cost of health insurance, while others staunchly believe that they wouldn’t be eligible for coverage anyway.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 20 million consumers have gained health coverage under the ACA, but another 10.5 million who would be eligible for subsidies and extra help that could greatly reduce their costs for a qualified health plan or make them eligible for Medicaid still remain uninsured.

The uninsured face tougher measures

The ACA has provided low-cost coverage options to many Americans near the bottom on the income ladder, notably through a major expansion of Medicaid which covers many previously ineligible persons with free or inexpensive care. Also, there’s a sharper edge to the message this year for those who are still reluctant to get coverage and don’t recognize that there is help out there for them, if they’re willing to get insured or if they want to avoid facing a larger tax penalty.

Here are some reasons why some people still don’t have healthcare coverage:

  • They find it expensive
  • They were told they’re not eligible
  • Technical glitches during online purchase turned them away
  • The process of purchase is rather complex
  • The deductibles and co-pays make the coverage expensive

When plans which start at $55 but have $6,000 deductibles, the policy becomes useless to someone who earns $18,000-$20,000 as there’s no way they can spend that much to be able to use it. That’s why there are still some people who find that they can “afford” neither the time nor the money for the “Affordable” Care! But according to the studies, the majority have not only been convinced but actually converted to accepting its benefits.

What are your thoughts on the ACA? Pro? Con? Why?

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.