March 23, 2011

Health care, one year after PPACA

A year ago, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, ending a tumultuous period of debate in Congress, in our living rooms and in town hall meetings across America. The signing of the law and last November's elections have led to a repeal vote, defunding amendments, failed budget bills that make it illegal to implement any part of the ACA, a handful of court cases, and a new name - the Job-Killing Health Care Law – all of which look good in print to some folks, but most of which don’t really represent today’s reality. 

Here are some numbers on the bill from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Health Tracking Poll, taken in March:
  • those with unfavorable opinions of the ACA still outnumber the favorables by 46% to 42%, but the majority of Americans believe that the ACA will be at least somewhat successful in expanding coverage for the uninsured and regulating insurance companies so that consumers have more protections.
  • all of the major provisions except for the individual mandate are generally well supported, and Americans continue to support keeping the bill as is or expanding it (51%) vs. outright repealing or repealing and replacing with an as-yet undefined plan;
  • Significantly, 64% disapprove of using the Republican's tactic of de-funding the ACA through the budget process.
Given all of that, here are the numbers from the polls that I find most disconcerting:
  • over half of us have put off medical or dental care to save money
  • 70% are worried about having to pay more for health care or coverage
  • 50% worry about not being able to afford the care they need, and
  • 40% who are covered worry about losing their coverage. 
One year after PPACA, I’m still wondering what it's going to take to for us to figure out  our real health care, health delivery, and health insurance problems.