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The Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, is one of the most significant healthcare reforms in the United States in recent history (Gorin et al., 2014). Enacted in 2010, this policy aimed to address the complex issues of healthcare accessibility, affordability, and quality. This essay will explore the various aspects of the ACA, including its core objectives, its mechanisms, as well as its successes and shortcomings.

What Is the ACA?

The Affordable Care Act is a comprehensive healthcare reform law signed by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010 (Gorin et al., 2014). It was designed to achieve several key objectives. First and foremost, it sought to increase access to healthcare coverage for millions of uninsured Americans. It did so by expanding Medicaid, establishing Health Insurance Marketplaces, and prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions (Meltzer, 2011). The ACA also introduced the individual mandate, requiring most Americans to have health insurance or pay the penalty. Another significant aspect of the ACA was its focus on improving the quality of healthcare. The law implemented measures to enhance the quality of care provided by healthcare providers and encouraged cost-saving initiatives through the introduction of accountable care organizations (Meltzer, 2011). Additionally, it sought to make healthcare more affordable through subsidies and tax credits for those with lower incomes.

How the ACA Works

The ACA operates through a combination of provisions and reforms. One of its primary mechanisms is the establishment of Health Insurance Marketplaces, also known as Exchanges (Anderson & Griffith, 2021). These online platforms allow individuals and small businesses to compare and purchase health insurance plans. Subsidies are provided to help lower-income individuals afford coverage. Furthermore, the ACA expanded Medicaid eligibility in many states, enabling more low-income individuals and families to access healthcare. The law also prohibited insurance companies from discriminating against individuals with pre-existing conditions, making it easier for those with health issues to obtain insurance. To ensure healthcare quality, the ACA introduced initiatives like value-based care and the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, which incentivize healthcare providers to focus on the quality of care and reduce unnecessary costs.

Failures of the ACA

While the Affordable Care Act has made substantial progress in improving healthcare access and affordability, it is not without its criticisms and failures. One of the most prominent criticisms is related to rising healthcare costs. Despite efforts to contain costs, healthcare expenses have continued to increase, and for some, this has resulted in higher insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses (Sonfield & Pollack, 2013). Additionally, there have been reports of narrow networks, where individuals have limited choices in healthcare providers under ACA plans, which can be restrictive for some patients. The individual mandate, a core component of the ACA, faced legal challenges and was effectively repealed in 2019. This removed a mechanism designed to ensure broad participation in the healthcare system. The law has also faced opposition from some states, leading to variations in its implementation, with some states not expanding Medicaid.

Positive Impacts of the ACA

The Affordable Care Act has had a significant impact on various groups of people. One of its primary accomplishments is the reduction in the uninsured rate in the United States. Before the ACA, millions of Americans lacked health insurance, and this number significantly decreased after ACA implementation. The ACA has particularly benefited low-income individuals and families. Through the Medicaid expansion and subsidies for insurance purchased on the Health Insurance Marketplaces, many low-income Americans gained access to affordable healthcare coverage (Bullinger & Meinhofer, 2021). This resulted in improved health outcomes for this demographic, as they could seek necessary medical care without the burden of high costs.

The law also prohibited insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. This was a crucial benefit for those with chronic illnesses, as they no longer faced discrimination when seeking health insurance. Additionally, young adults were able to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26, providing them with extended coverage during a critical transitional period.

Negative Impacts of the ACA

While the ACA has brought about many positive changes, there have also been negative consequences for certain groups. Some critics argue that the ACA has led to higher premiums for those who were already insured, particularly in the individual market. This is due to the inclusion of essential health benefits, which raised the cost of insurance plans for some individuals. Additionally, the ACA introduced the employer mandate, requiring certain large employers to provide healthcare coverage to their employees. Critics claim that this mandate has led to reduced hiring and increased part-time employment, as some employers seek to avoid the additional costs associated with providing healthcare benefits.

Improving the ACA

To address the shortcomings of the ACA, several improvements could be considered. One potential improvement is to address the issue of rising healthcare costs. This might involve further regulating drug prices, promoting price transparency, and encouraging competition among healthcare providers. Additionally, reevaluating and refining the Essential Health Benefits could help in controlling premium increases. Another area for improvement is the stability of the insurance market. Implementing measures to stabilize insurance markets, such as reinsurance programs, could help ensure that insurance remains affordable and accessible.

Missing Elements

One of the prominent shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act lies in the arena of prescription drug costs. While the ACA introduced measures aimed at promoting cost-effective drug utilization, it regrettably falls short of providing a comprehensive solution to the ever-increasing issue of exorbitant drug prices within the United States (Lexchin, 2017). The rise in prescription drug costs has become a pervasive concern, affecting both the insured and uninsured. It not only places a significant financial burden on individuals but also strains the healthcare system as a whole. The ACA recognized the importance of affordable medications, implementing provisions such as the creation of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) and initiatives to encourage generic drug use. These steps were certainly a stride in the right direction, but they do not address the core issue of drug pricing.

A more comprehensive approach to drug pricing reform is not only warranted but essential. This involves revisiting the negotiation of drug prices between pharmaceutical companies and the government, as is the case in many other developed countries. Implementing price controls or mechanisms that link drug prices to their value and effectiveness could be explored. Additionally, measures to improve transparency in the pharmaceutical industry are crucial. This includes making pricing information more readily available to consumers and healthcare providers. Furthermore, the ACA can be strengthened by supporting research and development for generic and biosimilar drugs, fostering competition in the market, and accelerating the approval process for such drugs. Encouraging innovation in drug production methods and investing in pharmaceutical research can lead to more affordable and accessible medications.

Ideas for Policy Enhancement

This policy should not be thrown out; hence, improving and enhancing it is vital. Enhancing the Affordable Care Act requires a multifaceted approach, focusing on several key areas to further improve healthcare accessibility and affordability for all Americans. One avenue for policy enhancement involves addressing the discrepancy in Medicaid expansion across states. Several states have not yet adopted the Medicaid expansion provided for by the ACA; hence, expanding Medicaid in these states can help close the “Medicaid gap” and extend coverage to low-income individuals who currently fall through the cracks. By making Medicaid available to more Americans, those with limited financial means are ensured access to vital healthcare services.

To control the rising costs of healthcare, the ACA can benefit from a more assertive approach to cost containment. Implementing drug price negotiation, similar to what many other developed countries employ, can help lower the prices of prescription medications. Negotiating directly with pharmaceutical companies can result in fairer drug pricing, making essential medications more accessible to patients. Moreover, promoting the use of cost-effective generic and biosimilar drugs and implementing measures to prevent price gouging can contribute to sustainable healthcare costs (Lexchin, 2017). In addition, to enhance the ACA, investments in healthcare infrastructure are essential, particularly in these underserved regions. Building more healthcare facilities, increasing the number of medical professionals in rural areas, and expanding telemedicine services can improve healthcare access for those living in remote and medically underserved areas. This investment not only benefits rural communities but also contributes to a more equitable healthcare system.

Embracing innovative approaches to healthcare delivery is another pathway for enhancing the ACA. Implementing value-based care models and accountable care organizations can encourage healthcare providers to prioritize the quality of care over quantity, thus reducing costs and improving patient outcomes. Telehealth services have proven especially valuable in recent years and can be further integrated into the healthcare system to provide convenient access to medical care. Enhancing the ACA should also focus on addressing health disparities among various populations. Policies aimed at reducing health inequities, such as those affecting minority communities, should be prioritized. This involves addressing social determinants of health, improving cultural competency in healthcare, and reducing barriers to care for marginalized communities.


The Affordable Care Act has made significant strides in improving healthcare accessibility and affordability for many Americans. However, it is not without its flaws, and there are ongoing debates about its future. As healthcare continues to be a critical issue in the United States, policymakers and stakeholders must consider improvements and reforms to ensure all Americans have access to quality healthcare.


Anderson, D. M., & Griffith, K. N. (2021). Increasing insurance choices in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, 2018–21. Health Affairs, 40(11), 1706–1712.

Bullinger, L. R., & Meinhofer, A. (2021). The Affordable Care Act increased Medicaid coverage among former Foster Youth. Health Affairs, 40(9), 1430–1439.

Gorin, S. H., Darnell, J. S., & Allen, H. L. (2014). Affordable Care Act. Encyclopedia of Social Work.

Lexchin, J. (2017). Myths and realities about why prescription drug prices in the United States are so high. Pharmaceutical Medicine, 31(3), 143–148.

Meltzer, C. C. (2011). Summary of the Affordable Care Act. American Journal of Neuroradiology, 32(7), 1165–1166.

Sonfield, A., & Pollack, H. A. (2013). The Affordable Care Act and reproductive health: Potential gains and serious challenges. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 38(2), 373–391.


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The Affordable Care Actt

The Affordable Care Actt

1. What is this Policy
2. What ways does this policy work
3. What ways does this policy fail
4. Who does this policy impact
5. Who does it impact positively
6. Who does it impact negatively
7. What ways could this policy be improved upon
8. What things are missing
9. What ideas could be implemented to improve this policy? Does this entire policy need to just be thrown out?

AT least 5 professional references
– cover page
– 3 pages content of paper
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