The Affordable Care Act brings help and benefits to America's uninsured; even though the law's long term success is still in question.
Kathleen Sebelius, the health secretary had announced in January that from the month of October last year to end of December more than 2.2 million people had signed up for health insurance under Obamacare's health exchanges. Unfortunately only one forth of them were between ages 18 - 24 as more than half were between 45 - 64 and one third of them were above 55.
AdvertisementThese figures are important as the revenue which insurers can save from young and healthy people will cover the cost of older and sicker people. When young people fail to sign up in numbers the insurance premiums are bound to go up - thus discouraging young healthy people to sign up. Earlier insurers could deny coverage to the really ill or charge them very high premiums but after January, Obamacare bans such practices as it tries to expand the risk pool by requiring all Americans to buy insurance or pay a penalty.
Obamacare also expands Medicaid - programme to help the poor be covered by insurance. Only half the states agreed to expand Medicaid. Obama had promised people that they keep their old insurance plans, but this was not possible as the bare-bones plans did not meet the Affordable Care Act's strict plans.
2 million people have signed up, though it is still not clear as to how many have paid their premiums even though four fifths have qualified for subsidies.
Obamacare faces logistical challenges as the federally managed website fails to transfer Medicaid files to the respective state agencies and confusion reigns due to garbled forms being sent to insurers. Mr. Obama and his allies are hopeful that enrolment will increase before the April deadline.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
The Economist, March 2014
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