Republicans love howling about how the Affordable Care Act (aka the ACA or ā€œObamacareā€) is theĀ worst thingĀ thatā€™s happened to America since we started letting women haveĀ non-procreative sex. And yes, itā€™s not as affordable or as easy as many of us would wish (thanks to for-profitĀ health insuranceĀ andĀ Big PharmaĀ companiesā€™ CEOs still raking in those massive $10 million-plusĀ payouts).

But guess what? Not only do more of us have access to good quality health care, the ACAā€™s also way less expensive than we thought it would be.Ā The Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit that performs independent research to improve the quality of our health care system, reports taxpayers are saving $1.07 trillion more than what was originally estimated for the years 2011-2020.

Since the ACAā€™s enactment, projected program spending from 2011 to 2020 is now [over] $1 trillion lower than the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) originally estimated, although other factors, including the recent recession, are often responsible.

As a self-employed person whose husband began freelancing after getting laid off recently, my family and I are among the legions of Americans who are saying #ThanksObama (and meaning it).

Three Ways The ACA Is Saving All Of Us Some Serious Money.

So how is the ACA saving American taxpayers all this money? This infographic from the Commonwealth Fund breaks it down and shows that it mostly boils down to better oversight, more consistent preventative care and chronic care management and improved cost-control measures.Ā Obamacare FactsĀ explains:

The US healthcare system is expensive, the most expensive in the world. That is due to many factors including the quality of our care, the general cost of things in America, the sheer amount of folks employed by healthcare system, and general fraud, waste, and abuse. The ACA tries to address every aspect of our system. Itā€™s notĀ single payer, and itā€™s not a panacea, itā€™s common sense reform that takes the first steps toward addressing theĀ US health care crisis. The problem is complex, and so areĀ the Affordable Care Actā€™s solutions.

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1.Ā Improving Medicare.

The ACA has achieved massive savings in our health care system by improving Medicare. For starters, theyā€™re moving from fee-per-service payments (which encourages unnecessary patient visits and procedures) to payments based on outcomes and quality of care. Since overĀ 53.8 millionĀ are enrolled in the program, improving Medicare has made a huge (YOOGE!) impact.

The ACA is also designed to improve Medicare. Image:Ā The Commonwealth Fund.

2.Ā Preventive Services And Screenings.

The ACA places emphasis on preventive services like flu shots and cancer screenings, plus screenings and monitoring for chronic diseases like diabetes. These measures keep us healthier and keep health issues (and costs for treatment) Ā from snowballing down the road.Ā The ACA also closed the ā€œdonut holeā€ Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap ā€” people are more likely to comply with their treatment plans if they can afford to buy their drug prescriptions ā€” saving over $11.5 billion.

Image:Ā The Commonwealth Fund.

3. Other Cost Control Measures.

Cost control measures also include electronic health records (for more consistent and efficient care), the health insurance mandate (to manage risk), and requiring health insurance companies to actually spend 80 percent of their profits on health care. The recession may have also pushed Baby Boomers into early retirement. These younger and healthier-than-average retirees may have had an effect on lowering Medicare costs.

Image:Ā The Commonwealth Fund.

Alas, our Medicare system continues to face challenges the ACA canā€™t address. The complexity of the system increases administration costs, and our aging population may put a strain on the system down the road.

Image:Ā The Commonwealth Fund.

In addition, people are living longer, and that means more Medicare beneficiaries with Alzheimers, dementia and other conditions that require much higher levels of care than family members alone can provide.

Image:Ā The Commonwealth Fund.

Some Basic ACA Facts.

  1. The ACA isnā€™t the new, full-fledged healthcare system many of us wanted (and which many think it actually is). It improves health care by requiring everyone to participate, lowering peopleā€™s costs, expanding Medicaid and Medicare, and by imposing stricter regulations on the health care industry.
  2. Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.
  3. Premium costs varyĀ depending on by your income/ability to pay, age, family size, where you live and the type of plan you buy.
  4. Individuals and families who make less thanĀ 400% of the poverty levelĀ ($46,800 for a single person; 97,000 for a family of four) are eligible for tax breaks and/or cost assistance.
  5. You can sign up for a plan, or change your plan, during the yearly open enrollment period for each year (Nov.-Feb.) or if you unexpectedly lose your health coverage.
  6. To find a health care plan, visitĀ Healthcare.GovĀ (other sites may lead you to scams).

H/TĀ Daily Kos. |

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