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Insuring the Right to Health: Making the Marketplaces Work for Everyone

October 31, 2016 | Public Health Newswire

It’s been six years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the nation’s uninsured rate has dropped to a record low. That’s the good news.

On the other hand, a cornerstone of the ACA—the health insurance marketplaces—are facing some real challenges in reaching some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations, according to presenters at a Monday morning Annual Meeting session on “Insuring the Right to Health — Enrolling Underserved Populations through Health Insurance Exchanges.” Presenter Mary Pittman, president and CEO of the Public Health Institute, said the big questions facing the ACA today are how states address continuing barriers to insurance enrollment as well as ensure that affordable insurance is available to all.

Currently, she noted, about 10 percent of the country is still without insurance, with southern states home to the most uninsured residents. A number of reasons may be holding people back from signing up: Their state didn’t expand Medicaid eligibility, they’re simply unaware of the insurance marketplace, they’re ineligible for marketplace subsidies or they need help navigating the enrollment process. Still, thanks to the ACA, about 20 million people had gained insurance as of 2016, with nearly 13 million enrolling through insurance marketplaces, said session speaker Nadia Siddiqui, director of Health Equity Programs at the Texas Health Institute.