More than 40 million people in the United States do not have health insurance. As a result, millions are forgoing or delaying necessary medical care, jeopardizing their health and economic security. Racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to be uninsured and more likely to experience disparities in access and quality. The vast majority of the uninsured are in working families. In addition, millions of individuals who have health insurance still struggle to pay for the cost of care.
Three federal government programs provide health insurance for the public: Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Medicare provides basic health insurance benefits more than 52 million seniors and adults with permanent disabilities. Medicaid is the largest program, providing benefits to one in five Americans – more than 68 million low-income people in the United States. The CHIP program provides health insurance to children in families whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to afford private coverage.
The Affordable Care Act builds on and improves our current health care system, while strengthening Medicare and expanding Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act provides a path to coverage for millions of previously uninsured Americans, either through a public program, employer-sponsored insurance, or a new group insurance pool. The Supreme Court has ruled that states have the option (rather than a requirement) to expand eligibility for the Medicaid program to individuals living at up to 133 percent of federal poverty ($25,390 for a family of 3). This has already expanded health coverage to millions of low-income, previously uninsured people. In addition, the Affordable Care Act put new rules on insurance companies to protect consumers. The law also provides new benefits to Medicare beneficiaries and strengthens the Medicare trust fund.
For more information on this issue, visit CHN’s Public Policy Priorities, 2015-2016.
Read CHN’s statement about the Supreme Court’s June 24, 2015 decision on the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies.
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Policy Analyses and Research
- March 23, 2017CBPP: History Shows Ending Essential Health Benefits Would Likely Promote Fraud, Abuse
- March 21, 2017CBPP: Updated House ACA Repeal Bill Deepens Damaging Medicaid Cuts for Low-Income Individuals and Families