Study Finds People Healthier In ACA States
A New Measure Of Success For Obamacare
We know that Obamacare has insured 20 million more Americans. Those are hard figures, easily measured.
“But are these people better off?” is a question that’s been a little harder to determine. Is Obamacare working the way it’s supposed to work? Is it providing people protection against soaring medical costs? Preventing towering medical debts that often lead to bankruptcy?
Are people healthier?
And the answers to all of those questions is yes.
Yes, Obamacare is working. Despite howls and protests from the right, despite the oft-repeated and completely untrue “death panels!” scare tactics and easily debunked horror stories. Obamacare is working, in spite of the right’s sad and pointless efforts to repeal it, wasting our tax dollars they pretend they want to save while still pretending to be the party of fiscal responsibility. It is working even while Republicans run for office on promises to repeal and replace.
Obamacare is working. It’s saving lives. And it’s making lives better.
To begin with, recent studies show that people are now less likely to have medical debt. And this debt reduction can have a “cascade effect,” says Robert Kaestner, one of the authors of the new study. It’s known that hospitalization among the uninsured leads to a much higher risk of bankruptcy and unpaid bills. This can demolish a person’s credit score, leaving them unable to finance big items like a car, a home, or even an apartment.
“Financial distress has many subsequent consequences,” said Kaestner, a professor of health economics at the University of Illinois. “If people are skipping bills and going into debt, then it can have other repercussions — for example you lose your car, you fall behind on rent.”
Obamacare is providing people with more financial security and freedom. People aren’t losing the roofs over their heads due to a medical emergency. It’s allowing them to spend their hard-earned money elsewhere.
Furthermore, it’s literally saving lives.
People who are insured are more likely to have a regular doctor. They are also likely to get preventative health services, like vaccines and cancer screenings. Extensive research shows that these services save lives.
A new study measured the health impact brought on by Obamacare in a novel way. It compared low-income people in Arkansas and Kentucky, which expanded Medicaid insurance to everyone below a certain income threshold, to low-income people in Texas, which did not.
‘A Huge, Natural Experiment’
Arkansas and Kentucky folks, who have access to Obamacare, were healthier than their peers in Texas, who did not.
Because some states did not expand the Medicaid option, while others took advantage and provided the option for people most in need of health insurance, Dr. Benjamin Sommers, who authored the study, says America is now a “huge natural experiment.” Because of the choices states made, it became easy to compare the impact that Obamacare has had on the finances and health of low-income Americans.
Sommers, who is an assistant professor of health policy and economics at Harvard, used Texas as a sort of “control group” to measure the impact of Obamacare. The study was conducted over time by asking the same questions of low-income residents in Texas, Arkansas and Kentucky.
Low-income people in the states that accepted the Medicaid expansion were nearly five percent more likely than their Texan peers to claim excellent health in 2015. And that is an even bigger improvement than from 2014.
Research on the impact of Obamacare is slow; by nature, the impact of people receiving quality, timely healthcare takes time to even create an effect, and even more time to measure.
Obamacare Is Pro-Life
But all research shows that yes, Obamacare works. Yes, Obamacare is giving low-income people more financial security and protecting them from a medical catastrophe that could lead to a financial catastrophe. Yes, Obamacare is improving the quality of life for the previously uninsured, who now no longer need to make the decision between going to the doctor for a cancer screening and paying their rent. And yes, we know that such preventative measures such as cancer screenings and vaccines really do save lives.
RELATED: Obamacare By The Numbers
And yet, the “party of pro-life” is determined to take that away from 20 million Americans. Funny how that works.
Featured image via Wikimedia Foundation.
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