The Affordable Care Act, despite its good intentions, has been met with a mixed reception since its rollout. Millions of Americans living below the poverty line are now able to access health care, prescription assistance, and doctor appointments for their families. On the flip side, millions of others ineligible for assistance find themselves with a dilemma: pay for insurance and foot premiums they can’t afford, or pay the penalty fee. The latter is often far more affordable.
Politics aside, here’s an examination of what the raw data shows.
It’s a fact that under the Affordable Care Act, the rate of uninsured Americans has dropped, down to 9.2% in the first quarter of 2015, compared to 15.7% in 2011 before the act was signed by the president. The figure is expected to drop even further in 2016 as more Americans become aware of how the program works.
There is also a misconception about who makes up the majority of the previously uninsured. The prevailing belief is that those who benefit the most are those who are unemployed, using food stamps, or “leeching” off the system in one way or another.
In reality, the majority of these people are from the working class who did not have health insurance due to premiums being out of their budget.
Furthermore, a 2012 study by Families USA also showed that between 2005 and 2010, 130,000 Americans died due to not having health insurance. That’s 25% higher compared to the insured. There are other similar studies, and while the numbers may differ slightly, there appears to be a unanimous consensus: those who lack basic health care are more likely to die than their insured counterparts.
With the statistics as evidence, a strong argument can be made that the Affordable Care Act saves lives. That’s a second chance for countless Americans.
Exploring the Other Side of the Coin
Looking at some of the statistics alone, it would seem like a bullet-proof argument in favor of Obamacare. However, statistics without context only frames the argument from one perspective. There are many working Americans who need affordable health insurance just as much, but are ineligible due to just being barely above the income threshold. To say that Obamacare is a success would be leaving these Americans’ voices unrepresented.
Take into account Marhsa Danley, a 56-year-old native of Napa, CA, and full-time worker who is just above the income bracket that would allow her to qualify for a subsidy. She has not had insurance in over 10 years, though under Obamacare, she will be required to pay roughly $500 a month for a Silver Plan that includes a $5,000 annual deductible. Despite an annual $68,000 income, the $500 a month premium is simply beyond Danley’s budget considering that she has other debts, not to mention having to foot her mother’s existing medical bill when she fell ill a few years earlier.
Danley’s story isn’t a unique one. Many hard working Americans, despite being considered middle-class income earners, are feeling the financial sting of having to pay for health insurance. Many are instead opting to pay the penalty fee since it’s the more financially sound decision. Taking this road, of course, still leaves them without health coverage.
Even those already insured are seeing a hike in premiums. Also, more employers are nixing health insurance plans for their employees or are drastically reducing the coverage. UPS, for example, just recently removed spousal coverage from its plan and cited the Affordable Care Act as reason for doing so. This means employees now have to enroll in an individual health insurance plan that, much like in Danley’s situation, they may not be able to afford. The Affordable Care Act, as it turns out, isn’t so affordable for a large working class demographic.
We’re Here to Help
At Simplefill, we know that even with insurance, prescription drug costs are sometimes unaffordable. Whether you are living without health insurance, struggling with cost of high co-pays or being forced to make decisions due to limited prescription drug coverage, our mission is to ensure all patients receive the help they need. We believe that no American should be forced to choose between potentially life-saving medication and being plundered into deep debt. Get in touch with us to learn more about our prescription assistance program. Based on your eligibility, you may also qualify for grant services.