The current health insurance climate in the United States can seem really grim or down right fantastic, depending which side of it you’re looking from. Those in dire need of health care that can’t afford to pay out pocket are all too thankful for the introduction of the Affordable Care Act in 2012. Meanwhile, Americans who are covered through workplace policies or their own privately paid for coverage aren’t terribly thrilled with the increases they’re seeing in their premiums. Still, the biggest plight is faced by those who have no insurance at all. How will they manage?
When the ACA went into effect, many who couldn’t get their hands on insurance before were suddenly blessed with it. It is thought around 16.9 million had people gained health insurance coverage through the ACA by mid-2015. The biggest advantage has likely come to those who didn’t qualify for Medicaid before and now do. Several states chose to expand the income guidelines for Medicaid when the ACA was passed, upon the President’s urging to do so. Thus far, 19 states have refused expansion.
Those states that have expanded the government-funded healthcare system saw a near-immediate surge in the number of people signing up for insurance through the government marketplace. The expansion of Medicaid meant families that had once made slightly too much for the federally funded insurance now qualified. However, while this saved that group from extraordinary medical bills or a lack of healthcare in avoidance of such, did it really help the nation overall or just raise the bar for a new level of individuals who now cannot afford health coverage?
Prior to the ACA enactment, a state’s requirements for Medicaid stipulated a family of four with a household income above a certain amount were disqualified. The expansion raised those amounts. Previously, those who made more than the maximum income limit were out of luck, but many still made too little to afford healthcare by any other means. With the expansion, those who make even as little as $50 over the new limit are in the same predicament now, despite the fact that they make more money. They can’t qualify for free healthcare, and they don’t make enough to pay the premiums ACA lends them.
At the start of the third quarter of 2015, an estimated 33 million Americans still didn’t have health insurance coverage. In an attempt to shift America into an NHS-like system akin to the United Kingdom’s, the system has failed the middle class miserably. Families with two or three children are being offered no grants or assistance to pay for premiums that reach as high as a quarter or more of their annual income, in addition to astronomical deductibles, copays and non-covered services. So what’s an American to do if they make too much to get free healthcare and not enough to pay for good healthcare? Good question.