5 ways Obamacare has helped Americans

What Obamacare means for your taxes
What Obamacare means for your taxes

Happy Birthday, Obamacare!

It's been five years since President Obama signed his landmark -- and controversial -- health care reform bill into law.

Much has changed since March 23, 2010. Nearly 11.7 million people have signed up on the Obamacare exchange for 2015 coverage. The growth in health care spending has slowed to record lows. Medicaid enrollment has soared to 70 million, up nearly 20% since mid-2013.

Certainly, there have been many setbacks and changes along the way. Deadlines have been extended. Policies have been amended. Heads have rolled.

obamacare turns five

The Supreme Court in 2012 struck down the requirement that all states expand Medicaid, leaving only 28 states and the District of Columbia to offer coverage to low-income adults. Healthcare.gov crashed on the first day of open enrollment in 2013 and it took months to fix. The small business exchanges are struggling with low enrollment.

And Obamacare remains costly for many, even with monthly subsidies. Deductibles can run into the thousands of dollars and doctors can be hard to find in some areas.

Still, many Americans are better off. Here are five ways Obamacare has made Americans healthier.

  • Fewer uninsured: Millions of Americans now have coverage, many for the first time. The share of the nation's uninsured has dropped to 12.3% for the first two months of the year, from 17.1% in late 2013, before coverage in the insurance exchanges began.
  • No one will be turned away: The law banned insurers from turning away applicants because of pre-existing conditions. So those who were previously deemed uninsurable -- either because of minor or life-threatening illnesses -- can now enroll in coverage to help them pay for their visits, tests and prescriptions.
  • Staying on parents' plan: Children can now stay on their parents' insurance until age 26. As a result, roughly 5.7 million young adults have gained coverage over the past five years.
  • Free preventative care: Insurers must now cover a host of wellness exams and screenings, including annual physicals, mammograms and tests for cholesterol and diabetes.
  • Paying for care, not visits: Under Obamacare, doctors and hospitals are increasingly incentivized to treat patients more holistically and to keep them well. Instead of just getting paid per visit or test, insurers and Medicare are moving towards paying providers one fee to treat a patient's condition and penalizing them if patients are re-hospitalized quickly.

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