The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare” or “The ACA”) has been panned for not living up to its promises, but I think what hasn’t been talked about is it’s usefulness as a safety net.
The “Patient Protection” part of the ACA is often simply dropped, but it may be the most important part. That made it so that anyone can get covered, and you can’t be denied based on “pre-existing conditions”, i.e. not being able to get coverage for cancer… because someone didn’t have coverage when they found out they had cancer.
Medical expenses have been growing for decades, but that growth has actually slowed during the Obama administration. Those medical costs can be the largest unexpected household expense.
Getting sick can lead to defaulting on a mortgage and losing your house. It can hit the poor the hardest, leading to homelessness. People have fallen behind on rent and died on the streets. This isn’t hypothetical, it happened just this week.
So when we talk about the ACA “not working”, we’re talking about it not living up to specific promises for some people: “You can keep your plan”, etc. But it is working for 20 million people who are now insured, and many more who won’t be denied care.
The finding that the majority of Americans are only one lost paycheck from homelessness should be a call for a safety net. The ACA is that safety net, tackling the most likely cause for losing out on work.
More people want to fix Obamacare than want to repeal, which is what we should do for something that just needs to work better.