The Affordable Care Act is a significant milestone in the US healthcare reforms process. Although the law was meant to enhance healthcare access particularly among the low-income earners and the middle class, its implementation has been facing myriad obstacles, and the idea of cheap insurance companies covering all medicals costs is becoming more elusive. According to Drew Altman, the president and the chief executive of the Kaiser Family Foundation, the nation has witnessed a major drift from what health insurance means for most Americans.
Altman notes that although the premiums have remained relatively stable, the deductibles for insurance that is sponsored by employers have gone through the roof as businesses struggle to cut cost. Employers are offering some incentives to keep their employees healthier, but the problem is that many of them are now limiting the choices of their employees when it comes to health care; they are offering narrow-network plans.
About 12.7 Americans are relying on individual health insurance from marketplaces established under the federal Affordable Care Act and another 7 million covered under the expansion of Medicaid and other provision of Obamacare. However, about 150 million Americans get their health insurance through their employers. That means that the largest part of the health insurance market in the US is outside the Affordable Care Act.
The 2016 employer health benefits survey conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that the premiums paid for employer-sponsored health insurance plans went up by 3.4% in 2016. The report further notes that the deductibles we up by 12%. Over the last five years, premiums rose by 20% while deductibles for single employees grew by 49%. This is worrying because it suggests that the medical costs are being passed to the employees, and these rates are much higher compared to inflation and wages.
According to Gary Claxton, the deputy president of Kaiser Family Foundation, the out-of-pocket medical costs are also on the rise. Gary further notes the increase in out-of-pocket medical expenses and the astronomically high deductibles among other forms of cost-sharing are only discouraging the consumption of medical services.
In conclusion, it is apparent that although the Affordable Care Act was meant to increase access to health insurance, that goal is far from being achieved. Premiums and deductibles keep going up, and the medical cost is being passed to the very people the law was meant to relieve. Besides, policies of the Obamacare are offering limited coverage and therefore, the out-of-pockets medical costs have gone through the roof.