Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was first enacted in 2010. It began the process of major healthcare reform. For millions, it provided an opportunity to obtain affordable healthcare where none existed before.
It opened the door for those with pre-existing conditions to gain coverage that they were previously denied or overcharged for. Additionally, it mandates that every U.S. citizen obtains minimum coverage. The ACA provided a health insurance marketplace to ensure that affordable options and assistance were available to those in need.
Prior to Obamacare, this was not the case. Private health insurance companies were able to offer policies to whomever they pleased and set prices as they saw fit. They were also able to drop or deny coverage. Although Medicare and Medicaid picked up some of the slack, this left many Americans without access to preventive and affordable care.
How have private health insurance providers fared since Obamacare was enacted? Here are just a few changes that have taken place.
Under the ACA, mandatory minimum standards for coverage now exist. Preventive care must now be covered. Coverage for women’s health care has also expanded among other changes. Because every American has to sustain coverage that meets mandatory minimums, private insurers failing to provide such policies would not get much business.
There are policies that do not meet mandatory minimums, such as catastrophic coverage. However, by and large, such policies are supplemental. Private insurance providers have had to amend many policies to make sure they comply with minimum standards.
Inclusion in the Health Insurance Marketplace
Many of the largest private health insurance providers, including United Healthcare, elected to join the Obamacare marketplace by providing a variety of insurance policies. Some of these policies were eligible for low-income assistance. Some elected to continue providing only private insurance to individuals and businesses. Some have since dropped out of the marketplace in certain states or altogether. Others have subsequently decided to participate.
Whether insurance providers elected to take part in Obamacare via the health insurance marketplace or remain private, they were able to gain access to tens of millions of new customers. Despite having to meet higher standards, the mandate to get insurance drove many millions of previously uninsured citizens to become insured or face penalties.
Medicare and Medicaid
Another major change since the passage of Obamacare is the Medicare and Medicaid program expansions. The goal of these programs was to offer Americans with the greatest need affordable access to quality care.
Many insurance companies have expanded policies for Medicare and Medicaid. This is likely because these programs set benchmarks for quality of care. They also strive to create standards and limitations related to charging for service. This is all to keep healthcare costs low for needy patients, including senior citizens, children, the disabled, and low-income individuals and families.
The result is generally greater profits and less risk for insurance providers. Despite the concerns of detractors, Obamacare has not been the end of private insurance. In fact, it has increased competition. In many ways worked to the benefit of both consumers and insurance providers.