The Commonwealth Fund, an independent research agency that tracks health issues, has issued its report on the Affordable Care Act for the months after the end of the first enrollment period and the results are encouraging in terms of who it is reaching and how they are being helped. It won’t be received this way in all circles, but this is good news for Americans.
The Fund conducted phone interviews with 4,400 working-age adults across the nation from April 9 to June 2. Among the group’s findings (available at commonwealthfund .org) is the significant news that the rate of the uninsured has declined, which means that the nation is following the pattern established in Massachusetts when health care reform was enacted. The uninsured rate of working-age adults is 15 percent, down from 20 percent in July-September of 2013, and the uninsured rate of young adults has declined even more dramatically, from 28 percent to 18 percent, within that same period.
Seventy eight percent expressed some level of satisfaction with their new insurance, though complaints continue about the difficulty in navigating through the health care marketplaces. When divided by party, 85 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Republicans expressed happiness with their new insurance, indicating that, as opponents certainly feared, people would like the ACA if they actually got a chance to use it. They have and they do.
With the campaign season upon us, many Republican congressional candidates, including a couple from New York State whose commercials afflict the Berkshires courtesy of Albany TV stations, are still urging the repeal of "Obamacare." In light of this survey, how can they justify taking health insurance away from constituents who are grateful to have it and eager to use it? Their buzzphrase "repeal and replace" should fool no one as the Republican Party in Washington, D.C. has never managed to craft its own demonstrably workable health reform proposal.
The ACA still has glitches and more will emerge, but with its disastrous roll-out behind it, the ACA is now beginning to improve America’s problematic, profit-based health care system so more people have insurance and others have better insurance. Dead-enders in office and running for office should put politics aside and pitch in to make it work even better.