Effect of the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as Obamacare, was put in effect in 2010 with the aim to offer better coverage of health insurance for the population of the United States. The ACA was necessary for addressing the gaps in the US healthcare system that has been considered inferior compared to its global peers in terms of coverage and service efficiency. This paper will examine the stakeholders influenced by the implementation of the ACA in order to determine the impact of the policy on various groups, including public, governments, and health insurers.

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The three groups of stakeholders impacted by the ACA include the general public, health insurers, and federal and state governments. Each of these stakeholders has different relations with the act, which means that the implications of its implementation will be different. Due to the all-encompassing nature of the ACA, it is expected that the influence of the policy will not only be limited to the general population of patients but also encourage the financial well-being of the country overall due to the decrease in healthcare expenditure. Another important takeaway from the policy’s integration is associated with insurance companies being put in a unique position of competing against each other to win over clients.

From a financial perspective, the ACA will save money for the general public, which will improve the economy through the increased demand for goods and services. For health insurers, the policy has driven competition; however, there is a degree of financial uncertainty associated with pricing their services. While governments are required to allocate resources for Medicaid programs, the overall economic influence of the ACA is expected to be positive due to the increase in a healthy and productive workforce (Reisman, 2015). The policy is projected to lower the budget deficit by $143 million by 2022 through reducing the healthcare costs for the government. Also, the debt is expected to decrease because of the increase in taxes for large businesses and high-income households as well as due to the shift of cost burdens to pharmaceutical companies and health care providers.

In terms of the benefits for the general public, the act ensures the higher quality of healthcare services, and preventive care specifically. Health insurers, thus, can no longer deny issuing coverage for pre-existing conditions, which means that the management of chronic illnesses has become more affordable for the population. Also, the ACA requires all insurance plans to cover the ten essential health benefits, the most important of which are chronic diseases, mental health, and substance addiction. Families can especially benefit from the policy because children are allowed to use the health insurance plans of their parents until they reach twenty-six years.

For the middle class, there is a rise in tax credits on their insurance premiums, which results in the 138% Medicaid expansion over the federal poverty level (Kominski, Nonzee, & Sorensen, 2017). American insurance companies are now competing with each other to provide high-quality services to private customers in order to attract customers (Bagley & Levy, 2014). For both state and local governments, the greater access to care for the population will lead to the increased awareness and understanding of policies that should be implemented in order to support the further improvement of healthcare quality.

Despite the benefits, the ACA implementation resulted in the loss of employment-based insurance as many businesses found that it was cheaper to pay penalties and let their workers purchase insurance on their own. Health insurers were negatively affected by the integration of the ACA as it brought a certain degree of uncertainty when it comes to raising costs. In 2022, it is planned for insurance companies to assess a 40% excise tax on health plans that exceed $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 for families (Teitelbaum & Wilensky, 2015).

Most of such programs have been developed explicitly for high-risk individuals, including those with dangerous occupations or older workers. For governments, the Affordable Care Act is challenging in terms of alignment because of the lack of unity among political parties in terms of care implementation. For example, there were states that did not approve of the policy, which led to further fragmentation.

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To conclude the current assessment, the implications of the ACA will continue developing over the next decades. The success of the policy will be evaluated on the basis of numerous performance indicators, ranging from the total number of insured patients under the ACA to the number of insurance premiums paid to the public. With the lack of support from political leaders, the policy will experience some turmoil, especially given the number of weaknesses identified in this paper. However, opportunities for further improvement are vast, with the primary aim to increase the overall health of the US population and the increase in the quality and access to care. The stakeholders examined in this paper all interact within the ACA system to reach the desired health outcomes and lower expenditures on care through preventive services.

References

Bagley, N., & Levy, H. (2014). Essential health benefits and the Affordable Care Act: law and process. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 39(2), 441-465.

Kominski, G. F., Nonzee, N. J., & Sorensen, A. (2017). The Affordable Care Act’s impacts on access to insurance and health care for low-income populations. Annual Review of Public Health, 38, 489-505.

Reisman M. (2015). The Affordable Care Act, five years later: Policies, progress, and politics. P & T: A Peer-reviewed Journal for Formulary Management, 40(9), 575-600.

Teitelbaum, J., & Wilensky, S. (2015). Essentials of health policy and law (3rd ed.), Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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