A new study from The Commonwealth Fund has found that one-quarter of adults not eligible for Medicaid experienced some gap in their health care coverage in the last year and points to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as providing solutions to many of the root causes of these gaps.
The ACA began closing that gap in 2010 when it allowed adults to remain on their parents’ insurance up to age 26. Even more exciting are changes coming in 2014 that will help consumers navigate the increasingly confusing and unaffordable individual insurance market.
The study found that when people lose coverage from their jobs, at least 70% remain uninsured for a year or more. People with gaps in coverage this large are considerably less likely to have a regular doctor, get preventive care screenings, or take medications to control chronic conditions.
The uninsured don’t have a whole lot of options either as the market in which individuals and families buy coverage directly from a health plan, is a difficult place. Forty-five percent of adults who shopped didn’t even end up buying a plan.
In 2014, the ACA will make more people eligible for Medicaid, state exchanges, premium tax credits, and it will make the costly, labyrinthine health insurance market affordable by closing gaps in coverage simply by giving people access to care.
While the provisions that will truly close the gaps don’t come into effect until 2014, there remains the issue of the Supreme Court’s decision on the law. If the justices ignore the Constitution and strike down this law, the result would be significant human pain, legal mayhem and economic disruption.
■ Abby Hoffman