Health policy encompasses issues related to hospitals, medical professionals, insurance and payment models, technology, public health, and issues of social justice. In such a dense field, there is a lot of research and private, non-profit, and government involvement to study.
While this post doesn’t go into detail on alternative or historical health reform proposals, Medicare, private insurance, and health disparities, among other topics, the ACA is the most important recent policy that has impacted all of these issues, therefore it is the most important primer to this month’s health policy focus.
Health Reform and the Affordable Care Act
In 2010, President Obama signed health reform legislation called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, the ACA, or “Obamacare”. The goals of the ACA were to expand healthcare coverage, control health care costs, and improve health care delivery.
In 2015, 28.5 million non-elderly adults lacked health insurance, a decrease of nearly 13 million people since 2013 when many ACA policies started to be implemented (Kaiser Family Foundation).
The ACA was able to expand access to health insurance in several ways. The ACA made it so that people with pre-existing conditions could not be denied coverage, the ACA mandated that employers of certain sizes and other requirements had to offer insurance to their employees or face penalties, and the ACA expanded Medicaid.
Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides health insurance for certain people with limited income and resources. Medicaid is the largest source of health coverage in the US (medicaid.gov). The ACA expanded access to Medicaid by giving the states the option to extend eligibility to the program for adults with incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty line. Thirty-two states including DC have expanded Medicaid while 19 states have not.
Because some states have expanded Medicaid while others have not, this has created a coverage gap.
While most of the ACA has started or completed implementation, many programs and policies continue to develop. Those interested in any health policies should stay up to date on the development of the ACA as it impacts the industry and the country’s economic, social equity, and physical health.
MPP with Health Policy Concentration
MA in Women Gender and Sexuality Studies