The ACA's expansion of Medicaid and the marketplaces that sell subsidized policies have helped decrease the uninsured rate. Research on being underinsured shows that affordability at the point of care is central to keeping people healthy. For example, a new study found a significant relationship between having health insurance and better asthma control.
Although it provided a foundation, the ACA alone could not have absorbed the effects of the pandemic's sudden job losses on health care coverage. Temporary expansions to the safety net enacted by Congress also were necessary to stem coverage loss. As the pandemic continues, policymakers will want to keep safety-net provisions as available policy options.
Minimum wage increases can lead to reductions in employer-sponsored health insurance for some workers and their dependents. If policymakers want to raise the minimum wage, they should look beyond standard labor market outcomes and take into account other potential effects.
The Affordable Care Act simplified shopping for health care by creating the individual health insurance marketplaces where plans are categorized into labeled tiers. Consumers rely on these labels when comparing plans. But the labels don't tell consumers everything they need to know.
President Joe Biden addressed a joint session of Congress, summarizing his administration's early COVID-19 response and outlining plans that aim to loosen the pandemic's year-long grip on a weary nation. The speech reflected the fact that the United States faces policy challenges across a wide range of domains.
The pandemic has revealed telemedicine's potential to improve health care delivery and access. Telemedicine could help reach patients who would normally be excluded or alienated by the traditional structure of the health system.
The House Ways and Means Committee has proposed several insurance reforms in its emergency COVID-19 relief package, including increasing subsidizes and extending subsidies to people with higher incomes. The proposed combined approach is a far more efficient means of covering uninsured Americans than enhancing subsidies only for those who are currently eligible.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is far from perfect, but its protections are particularly relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic. If the ACA is struck down, then protections for preexisting conditions will go with it. Policymakers should consider the potential implications for millions of COVID-19 survivors.
In the United States, federal, state, and local governments share responsibility for paying for losses from disasters. As the frequency and severity of disasters has increased, so have the losses. It's worth considering whether the current risk-sharing approach is appropriate.
Workers' compensation typically does not cover common infectious diseases like COVID-19. But in the fight against the pandemic, state policymakers might take a fresh look at aspects of labor and business regulation that usually fade into the background and ask if modest changes hold any potential to reduce disease transmission.