March 23 marked the fourth anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act. Since its enactment, millions of Americans have benefited from the law.
Here are just four of the reasons we have to celebrate:
—5 million people covered. Since October 1, more than 5 million people have signed up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. And that doesn’t include the more than 3 million young adults who have gotten coverage through their parents’ health plans or the millions who have learned they are eligible for Medicaid coverage. These people are enjoying high quality, affordable coverage that can’t discriminate based on a preexisting condition or charge women more because of their gender.
—Bending the cost curve. We’ve held down national spending growth in health care to the slowest rate in a half century. Private health insurance premiums are growing at the slowest rate in a decade and a half. And as costs go down, businesses have more resources to invest in new job creation and new products and services.
—Free preventive care. Today, most health plans have to cover recommended preventive services free of charge. These include flu shots for children and adults, diabetes and blood pressure screenings, pap smears and mammograms for women, and well-child visits, just to name a few. Today, 71 million Americans have new access to preventive services because of the law. And thanks to a similar requirement in Medicare, more than 37 million seniors and people with disabilities took advantage of a free preventive service in 2013.
—Strengthening Medicare. Today, the Medicare program is stronger than ever. Since enactment of the Affordable Care Act, 7.9 million seniors and people with disabilities have saved $9.9 billion on prescription drugs, or an average of $1,265 per beneficiary. Medicare spending growth per beneficiary remained low in 2012 and we’re spending smarter.
Preventable hospital readmissions are going down, resulting in 130,000 fewer patients back in the hospital. Our efforts to combat fraud and abuse recovered $4.3 billion in 2013 and have returned $8.10 to the Medicare Trust Fund for every dollar spent. Finally, Medicare Advantage premiums have fallen by nearly 10 percent, while enrollment has increased by 38 percent to an all-time high of over 15 million beneficiaries.
Let’s celebrate millions more covered in 2014. If you know someone who’s uninsured, tell them to sign up today, before the March 31 deadline.
Go to HealthCare.gov (which is working smoothly) or call 1-800-318-2596 (open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). You can even get in-person help in your own community (just visit localhelp.healthcare.gov and punch in your zip code).
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(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)