Four years ago this week, President Obama signed into law landmark reforms to our health care system, guaranteeing quality, reasonably priced coverage as a right, not a privilege, for all Americans. Since then, the Affordable Care Act has been putting money back in families’ pockets, ensuring none of us are an illness away from poverty.
With nearly five million already signed up for quality, affordable coverage through the ACA’s online marketplaces, people across the country are already benefitting from ACA reforms. Three million young adults are able to pursue jobs and educations that matter to them with the healthcare security they need.
Women, once faced with skyrocketing healthcare costs, are no longer charged more simply because of their gender. Once facing healthcare charges up to 48 percent greater than men, the ACA ended the practice of gender rating that forced women to pay higher premiums for the same coverage.
Because insurers could deny coverage for certain “pre-existing” conditions, millions were forced to go without and run the risk of financial ruin. The ACA did away with this practice, putting consumers back in charge of their own healthcare decisions, not insurance administrators.
Affordability and accessibility aren’t the only priorities of the ACA. Slowing the growth in healthcare costs is also a key design of the plan. Already, new federal rate review rules under the ACA require insurance companies to submit any proposed increase in health insurance premiums greater than 10 percent for federal approval. This provision was put in place in 2011 and helps to drive down costs, requiring insurance companies to maintain low overhead.
The ACA also requires insurance companies to devote 80 percent of consumers’ premium dollars to actual health care services, not administrative costs. Last year, to comply with the 80 percent threshold, companies lowered premium costs by $3.4 billion. Companies in violation returned an additional $500 million to consumers.
This coming Monday, March 31, the Affordable Care Act’s first enrollment period comes to a close. Eligible participants can create an account through HealthCare.gov, confirm coverage eligibility, and then pick the plan that is best for them and their families, with coverage becoming available within two weeks.
To learn more about these online marketplaces and how the ACA is helping Americans live longer, healthier lives, visit www.healthcare.gov. Special “Navigators,” have also been established to help people understand how the law’s reforms benefit them and answer specific questions about how the different plan options would affect themselves and their family. Legal Services of Northern Virginia is working as a navigator, their number is (703) 778-6800. You can also visit www.moran.house.gov for more information.