For Tens of Millions, Obamacare Is Working

Originally appeared in The New York Times.

Ever since President Obama unveiled his health care plan in 2009, critics have questioned its lofty promise to bring affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.

Now statistics for the second year are largely in hand and the verdict is indisputable: Its disastrous 2013 rollout notwithstanding, the Affordable Care Act has achieved nearly all of its ambitious goals.

Most important, just three key provisions — creation of exchanges with subsidies for those who qualify, expansion of Medicaid and minimum standards for insurance plans — have benefited at least 31 million Americans.

Millions more have taken advantage of other features, such as the inability of insurance companies to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions and the ability to include children up to age 26 in a parent’s plan.

Finally, while other promises of the Affordable Care Act are harder to measure, the slowdown in the rate of increase in health care costs and health insurance premium prices is at least partly due to the new law.

The program still faces challenges — notably a Supreme Court decision on subsidies expected in June that has the potential to undermine the program in many states. There are disappointments, too; millions of Americans faced higher premiums after being forced off substandard plans. Nonetheless, the law’s cornerstone role in our health care system now seems assured.