Affordable Care ActAffordability
In March 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law. Often called the Affordable Care Act or ACA, the law aimed to expand access to health coverage, make coverage more affordable, and lower the overall costs of health care in the US.
Since its enactment, the ACA has made significant progress in terms of getting more people in this country covered. Today, the number of people without health insurance is at an all-time low of nine percent—though this number does not reflect the people who had a gap in coverage during the year or simply did not have adequate coverage based on their health needs.
The law also expanded access to certain preventive services like vaccinations, wellness visits for children, and screening for HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and cancer. It required health insurers and Medicaid to provide contraception options without any out-of-pocket costs. The ACA is also noteworthy because it requires insurance plans to cover care for mental illness and substance use disorders—previously, insurance plans could simply exclude coverage for these health care needs.
Despite the ACA’s progress, long-standing inequities within the US health care system remain.
People from Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Pacific Islander, and additional systemically excluded communities are insured at lower rates than people who identify as white. And too many hurdles continue to make it difficult or impossible for immigrant communities to get access to coverage—let alone trusted providers.
People with disabilities are more likely to be insured for only part of a year. People who seek birth control still encounter cost-sharing requirements, despite the ACA’s good intentions. Additionally, many people are still facing wide-ranging health care affordability challenges, such as paying monthly premiums, having enough saved for a high deductible, and covering co-payments.
Community Catalyst worked alongside hundreds of organizations to support the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and we continue our work to build on the ACA’s progress to expand coverage and care to all communities and individuals. Ultimately, we are reimagining the way our health system works so that everyone has the tools they need to be as healthy as possible.