Since the October 1 launch of the health care exchanges, vast numbers of Americans have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act, also known as “ObamaCare.” In the first month of the exchanges, more than 500,000 people gained insurance coverage, and enrollment has surged since then in at least the state-run exchanges. Many of these newly insured have been unable to afford insurance for years and live in poor areas, such as rural eastern Kentucky, where health services for the uninsured have long been scarce. And the benefits of ObamaCare go far beyond just the exchanges. Three to six million young adults have gained coverage thanks to ObamaCare’s requirement that parents be able to keep their children on their policies until age 26. Seniors and people with disabilities have saved $8.9 billion in prescription drugs since 2010. Between 36 million and 122 million Americans no longer have to worry about a pre-existing condition exclusion foreclosing their ability to gain coverage. And ObamaCare’s cost-savings provisions have helped achieve the significant reduction in the increase in health care spending that has occurred over the past few years.
Despite the widespread benefits of the Affordable Care Act, the media over the past two months has been obsessively focused on two problems. The first is the widely reported flaws in the federal health insurance exchange website, HealthCare.gov. The failure to have the website ready to go right off the bat was a major screw up. The website problems are, however, fixable and, in fact, are largely being fixed. More importantly, the success of ObamaCare in states such as Kentucky, Connecticut, Washington, and California that set up their own exchanges shows that the website issues are a problem with implementation rather than with the substance of the law itself.
Second, the media has kept a constant spotlight on people in the individual insurance market whose policies fail to meet the consumer protection requirements set forth in the Affordable Care Act. While the media has portrayed those people – which make up approximately 5.7% of the population that are not Medicare recipients – as “losing their insurance” or having their policies “cancelled,” the reality is that each of these people can purchase new, typically better, policies on the health insurance exchanges. While those higher quality policies will often (though not always) cost more, the large majority of people in the individual market are eligible for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act that will make their out of pocket premium costs lower than they were pre-ObamaCare. A recent analysis found that only approximately 0.6% of the non-Medicare recipient population in the end are likely to pay more for (better) insurance under ObamaCare. And, in fact, many Americans are happy to have the opportunity to replace their substandard pre-ObamaCare policies.
It is, of course, not surprising or inappropriate that the media would cover the website problems and the story of the people whose existing insurance policies are being replaced. But given the small proportion of people who may pay more for better insurance policies, and the relatively transient nature of the website problems, the media’s singular wall-to-wall coverage of these two issues is vastly overstated, especially in comparison to the almost entire lack of coverage of the far larger group of people who are benefitting from the Affordable Care Act. The media’s obsessive coverage also plays directly into the hands of Congressional Republicans, who are implementing a structured and well-coordinated effort to jump on every issue in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in a desperate attempt to continue their long-term effort to sabotage the law.
With both the media and the Republican Party committed to trumpeting every kink in the ObamaCare implementation, it is up to us progressives to spread the word about the far more numerous and important benefits that the Affordable Care Act is providing to people throughout the US. And while studies and analyses explaining how ObamaCare will help repair our broken health insurance system are important, personal stories of how individuals have benefitted are far more politically persuasive. We’re trying to do our part by collecting as many of those success stories as we can find at our ObamaCare Success Stories page.
Here are brief summaries of just a few of the stories that we have collected so far:
* A family that has a son who was born with a brain tumor, but that no longer has to worry about financial ruin thanks to ObamaCare’s ban on annual and lifetime benefit limits
* A 36-year-old self-employed cancer survivor who will be saving $628 per month on health insurance
* A family in southwest Michigan that twice had to sell the family farm to pay hospital bills after an illness, but that now has a quality and affordable insurance policy
* A family in Utah paying only $123 per month for health insurance under ObamaCare
* A 39-year-old Pennsylvanian who has lupus who will be saving $50 per month on a better health insurance plan
Most of the stories we’ve collected are from letters to the editor, blogs, and newspaper coverage over the past two months. The more personal stories we can collect the better, however, so we urge our readers to share their own stories of getting better quality and/or lower cost health insurance thanks to ObamaCare. And, of course, the purpose of collecting these stories is so we can all share them with the public more broadly. We encourage all of our readers to do so through writing letters to your local newspaper editors, contacting your Congresspeople, and spreading the ObamaCare success stories widely on your social media networks.
ObamaCare is working to expand affordable health insurance coverage to tens of millions of Americans, end abusive health insurance industry practices, and make our health care system more efficient. But it is also facing a concerted, determined, and well-funded effort by conservatives to try to make sure the law does not succeed. Now is the time for all of us to fight back by highlighting the significant benefits that ObamaCare is already providing to real Americans throughout the country.