Affordable Care Act Improves Insurance, Physician Access, Health

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Affordable Care Act Improves Insurance, Physician Access, Health
Affordable Care Act Improves Insurance, Physician Access, Health

HealthDay News — More Americans have affordable health insurance, access to a personal doctor, and feel they are in better health after the first two open-enrollment periods of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to an analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The survey, which involved more than half a million U.S. adults, found that the ACA has reversed what had been a downward spiral in which health care was becoming more costly and less available to many Americans, lead researcher Benjamin Sommers, MD, PhD, told HealthDay. Sommers is a health economist with Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a primary care physician with Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

In particular, minority groups and the chronically ill have made huge strides in gaining health coverage and getting the care they need, the researchers reported. Close to 16 million more adults have gained health coverage, a reduction of almost 8% in those who were previously uninsured. 

"Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act five years ago, we've seen the largest reduction in the uninsured rate in four decades," Sommers said.

According to Sommers, other findings include: seven million more adults have access to a personal physician, a 3.5% improvement; almost five million more adults have easy access to medicines, an improvement of more than 2%; and 11 million more adults say they can afford the health care their family needs, a 5.5% improvement. 

In addition, almost seven million more adults described themselves as being in excellent, very good, or good health, rather than fair or poor health, Sommers said. Previous research has shown that people who say they are in fair or poor health have markedly higher death rates, he explained.

Reference

  1. Sommers BD et al. JAMA. 2015; doi:10.1001/jama.2015.8421.
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