Health Care Reform
50 million people were uninsured in 2010 and 48.6 million in 2011 – according to data released by the Census Bureau in September, 2012. This was the first time in four years that the number of uninsured Americans decreased. The percentage of people covered by government health insurance, on the other hand, increased to 32.2% in 2011 from 31.2% in 2010. This was the fifth year in a row that this number increased.
Because of a provision in the Affordable Care Act – which will be implemented beginning in 2014 – that allows young adults to remain under their parents’ health insurance until age 25, the percentage of uninsured between the ages of 19 and 25 decreased in 2011 to 27.7% from 29.8% in 2010.
For people between the ages of 26 and 64, the Census Bureau found that the uninsured rate was for the most part unchanged.
Most Americans who have health insurance receive coverage through their employers – yet the vast majority of families without health insurance are working. A combination of thorny economic problems in recent years, including the rising cost of health insurance, slow job creation, and high unemployment rates, have contributed growth in uninsured rates.
Passed on March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as ACA) stands as the most significant health care legislation since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. Most notably, the bill extends coverage to an additional 33 million Americans, ends the insurance practice of denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions and offers states the option of establishing insurance exchanges which include an expansion of Medicaid to Americans with incomes 133% under the federal poverty line. Subsidies for the insurance exchanges along with tax credits for small business owners who offer health care to employees are paid through by a host of small tax increases and cost savings in health care spending. In fact, the CBO has maintained that the ACA will slightly reduce the deficit over the next decade.
Because of the ACA’s wide scope, its implementation is both complex and long-standing. While a number of the Act’s provisions have already taken affect, 2013 and beyond is an important time for the continuing implementation. On October 1, 2013, open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace begins, with coverage beginning as soon as January 1, 2014. Through the Health Insurance Marketplace, depending on income and family size, individuals have the potential to save money. Also starting in 2014, most health insurance plans will be unable to deny coverage to individuals with preexisting health conditions. In addition, individuals who were not previously eligible for Medicaid may become eligible because of the new rules implemented by their state’s program. Currently, the ACA prevents insurance companies from limiting lifetime coverage for essential health benefits. In 2014, this will extend to yearly limits as well.
For more information on this issue, visit CHN’s Public Policy Priorities, 2013-2014.
Policy Analyses and Research
- February 5, 2014CEPR: Expanding Federal Family and Medical Leave Coverage: Who Benefits from Changes in Eligibility Requirements?