Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Five Years Later: How the Affordable Care Act Has Changed Millions of Lives
Press Release

RELEASE: Five Years Later: How the Affordable Care Act Has Changed Millions of Lives

Washington, D.C. — Five years after the signing of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, millions of Americans have benefited from the law, including the 16.4 million people who now have insurance who didn’t before. While conservatives continue to fight the law, trying to repeal it yet again through the King v. Burwell case aimed at the law’s tax credits, its success continues to grow. To mark the fifth anniversary of the ACA, the Center for American Progress is taking a look both at the key measures of the law’s success and the people who have benefited from five years ago to today.

Five facts

  1. 16.4 million: The Affordable Care Act was the fastest expansion of health insurance since 1965. Since the law went into effect, 16.4 million people who did not previously have health insurance have gotten covered.
  2. 129 million: Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 129 million people no longer have to worry about an insurer denying or dropping their coverage, significantly raising their premiums, or limiting their benefits because of a pre-existing condition.
  3. 20 percent: The Affordable Care Act is now projected to be 20 percent cheaper than expected over the next 10 years, due in large part to slower growth in premium costs than expected—contrary to conservative claims that the ACA was filled with runaway costs and would cause premiums to skyrocket.
  4. 71 percent: 71 percent of Americans who purchased health insurance from the state and federal exchanges rated their plans as either “excellent” or “good.”
  5. 87 percent: 87 percent of Americans who bought insurance from the federal exchange qualified for tax credits to help make their premiums more affordable.

“The Affordable Care Act has touched millions of lives, expanding access to health care and helping provide a measure of security the many need to raise a family or start a business,” said Emily Tisch Sussman, Campaign Director at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “These stories are of real people, some who have been able to obtain insurance despite a pre-existing condition or stay on their parent’s insurance until age 26. And some of these stories are about people who would not be alive today if not for the ACA. This law hasn’t killed our economy or threatened our democracy, like its opponents once claimed; it has instead changed our country for the better and helped open opportunity to millions.”

In February, CAP launched, a campaign aimed at telling the personal stories of those who have benefited from the ACA and would be hurt by a Supreme Court ruling against it. Today, several of those who told their story of getting access to coverage through the ACA shared where they were five years ago.

  • Joe Lucas: “Five years ago, I had no health insurance at all due to the skyrocketing costs of annual premiums. Then in 2010, I suffered an aortic aneurism and netted a $69,000 hospital bill after an 11 day stay. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I am able to purchase affordable coverage without being discriminated against due to my pre-existing condition.”
  • Jenn Causor: “Five years ago, my health care coverage was exactly like the coverage I have now under the Affordable Care Act. That’s the beauty of it—I was able to find affordable health insurance even though I have a pre-existing condition and my COBRA benefits expired from my previous job.”
  • Celia Maluf: “Five years ago, I had no health insurance at all. I could only find private insurance that cost upwards of $900, and I couldn’t afford it. After nine years without any coverage, I signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and am thankful I’m finally covered. Living without fear is priceless!”
  • Julie Thiets: “Before the Affordable Care Act, my husband and I had an insurance plan with extremely high premiums that we only used to get annual checkups. Thankfully, we were healthy and had no need for much more at the time. Now that I’ve been diagnosed with a chronic disease for which there is no cure, I just can’t imagine what I’d do without our Obamacare policy.”
  • Vaughn Alvarez: “Before the Affordable Care Act, I had affordable health insurance through my employer. When I transitioned to a new job though, they didn’t provide health care benefits. Fortunately, I had the options in the Georgia marketplace, which made the transition seamless.”
  • Rachel Farmer: “Five years ago, I was paying about $130 for health insurance just for myself. I had to pay for everything out of pocket since I never hit my deductible. Now, thanks to the tax credits available under the Affordable Care Act, I have coverage for my entire family for less than $10 per month.”
  • Aurora Harris: “Before the Affordable Care Act, I did not have any health care coverage. It was a huge strain for me, but after Obamacare passed, I was able to find affordable health insurance in the Texas marketplace. Without the tax credits, people like me wouldn’t have access to the care they need regardless of their sexual orientation—it’s a piece of civil rights legislation we just can’t afford to lose.”

Millions of Americans have stories like these, which is why the years-long conservative effort to repeal the law—with two more attempts in the House and Senate GOP budget resolutions last week—are so misguided. Conservative ideology is threatening the health care of millions of Americans, even as we celebrate the success of the law on the fifth anniversary of its signing.

Additional ACA-related releases from the Center for American Progress can be found here.

For more information, contact Benton Strong at [email protected] or 202.481.8142.