You have heard it called “Obamacare.” Ever since its official passage, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (often shortened to the Affordable Care Act, or ACA), has had staunch supporters and harsh critics. The ACA’s supporters call the law a success because more Americans are insured than ever before. Opponents call it a failure because of high cost and poor implementation.
Two years ago, btw broke down the basics of this law, just before it was fully implemented. This week, we revisit the issue, as a few recent developments have the legislation facing an uncertain future.
Providers Consider Dropping Out
One of the main components of the Affordable Care Act is the creation of “health insurance exchanges.” These are government-regulated online marketplaces where consumers can search, compare rates of competitors and purchase private insurance. Those who meet eligibility requirements can receive a government subsidy–in the form of either a tax credit or cost-sharing measures like lower out-of-pocket costs. Healthcare providers offer plans that meet particular standards and cannot deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
When HealthCare.gov was launched in October of 2013, it was marred with many problems, technical, organizational, financial and a security breach. Many healthcare providers—including UnitedHealthcare, Anthem, Aetna, Humana and Cigna—have reported fewer enrollees than anticipated and are concerned with future financial loses. Last month, UnitedHeathcare (UHC), the largest health insurance company in the country, announced that is considering removing itself from the public exchanges. In a press release, the company calls the decision a “proactive step,” and a reaction from market data that suggests high risk in continuing individual exchange products. The UHC CEO said that the company could not afford to support a marketplace that was not showing signs of sustainability.
Legislation to Repeal Obamacare
Ever since the ACA was signed into law in 2010, Republican congressmen and senators have vowed to overturn it. There have been more than 67 attempts by Congress to repeal Obamacare. All of them but the most recent attempt failed to make it through the Senate. On December 3, the Republican-controlled Senate voted 54-46 to approve a budget reconciliation bill that includes a repeal of only some of the elements of the ACA.
This bill also included a proposal to defund Planned Parenthood, an issue that has generated a great deal of controversy in recent months. A last-minute attempt to attach two gun-control amendments to the bill failed. The bill will now go to the House of Representatives. If approved, it will be forwarded to President Obama for his approval or veto.
Some lawmakers oppose the law because they believe that the general concept of universal health care is not an entitlement. Others believe that the costs associated are too high and will further increase the deficit. Some believe that this law in particular is flawed and in need of reform and reevaluation.