As the open enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) closed, estimates show that almost 7 million people had enrolled. This significant number reflects the existing need to expand health care coverage, which was beyond reach for many Americans.
This number is close to the Obama administration’s goal. This deserves credit, given the challenges the ACA faced, from a troubled launch technology-wise to nonstop attacks from Republicans to cause the initiative to fail. Numerous votes in the House of Representatives to repeal Obamacare and vocal ads about negative cases resulting from the law were unable to stop the gradual improvement as time passed of the perception Americans have of the ACA.
And deservedly so. The Bloomberg poll, one of the most recent ones, shows that the majority support provisions of the law, like allowing children to remain in their parents’ insurance up to age 26 and banning insurers from denying coverage due to preexisting conditions.
From the beginning, the challenge for the law was how to expand coverage without changing the complex private insurance system or the costs of various medical services. That exposed and exposes the reform to uncontrollable effects, like increases in premium costs.
There will surely be other unpredictable factors that the Republicanswho have bet on the failure of Obamacare to win the elections in Novemberwill use to their advantage. It is unfortunate that they are betting on the situation remaining the same as before, given the lack of interest they have shown in ways to improve the law and the lack of internal agreement to promote a partisan measure that expands health care coverage.
The U.S. is the country that spends the most money on health care and has the largest number of people without access to a doctor, among industrialized countries. The ACA, with its limited scope, is a risky bet that, against all odds, is addressing a fundamental human need for millions of Americans.