WV Center on Budget and Policy > Blog > Affordable Care Act > Like It or Not, Obamacare is Working

Like It or Not, Obamacare is Working

Obamacare, like it or not, seems to be working. While some headlines this week showed that the popularity of Obamacare continues to slide, recent surveys are finding the percentage of uninsured people across the country is at historic lows. (Oddly, popularity of the Affordable Care Act, which we all know — should  know, at least —  is one and the same thing, is significantly higher.)  West Virginia has blown past expectations and leads the country in Medicaid expansion enrollment. At last count, more than 117,000 West Virginians had newly enrolled in Medicaid. Since most of these folks are likely to have been previously uninsured, expansion alone has dramatically reduced the number of uninsured West Virginians, previously estimated to be around 250,000. 

So we know that Obamacare is reducing the number of uninsured. We know that it has increased the number of young adults who have been able to stay on their parents health plan while they go to college or get started in their careers. We also know that it is shaping up to cost significantly less than was originally thought.

And just recently, more evidence popped up that Obamacare is working. Data from West Virginia’s largest hospital system, the Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC), showed a huge drop in the number of self-pay patients. In just one month, from December of 2013 to January of 2014, the percentage of self-pay patients treated at CAMC hospitals tumbled from 6.9 to 1.7 percent, a 75 percent decrease. In February, it dropped again to only 1.0 percent. It just so happens that this is the same time frame when insurance plans under Obamacare kicked in. While many of the smaller provisions have been rolled out over the last few years since the bill was signed into law, the “meat and potatoes” of Obamacare, the insurance exchange marketplaces and Medicaid expansion, began on January 1st of this year.

The percent of self-pay patients at CAMC dropped steeply in the first two months of 2014

Source: CAMC

Source: CAMC

While you may not like Obamacare, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has so far shown that it is working by doing exactly what it was designed to do: insuring more people and helping to control costs.

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