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The Affordable Care Act Helps America’s Uninsured

Nancy-Ann DeParle, Director of the White House Office of Health Reform, looks at the Affordable Care Act in light of the new Census numbers.

Today, the Census bureau released new data on the number of Americans who went without insurance in 2009. The numbers are yet another reminder that the passage of the Affordable Care Act came at a critical time.  The data show that the number of Americans without insurance increased by 4.4 million since 2008, with a total of 50.7 million uninsured Americans. 

The Affordable Care Act marks a crucial turning point for our health care system and will help make affordable, high-quality care accessible to millions of Americans. Under the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans will be able to purchase better coverage in the new competitive private health insurance exchanges where individuals and small businesses will be able to choose coverage from a range of insurance options – the same options members of Congress will have. The law also helps cover millions of Americans who have been priced out of the market.  Taken together, the provisions in the law will expand coverage to 32 million Americans.  For more information on the new law please visit:

And whether you have insurance today or not, your care will get better. On the six month anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law, landmark reforms and consumer protections begin to take effect.  These new protections include:

  • Requiring insurance companies to allow young adults to stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26. 
  • Prohibiting insurance companies from imposing lifetime limits on the dollar amount health plans will spend on benefits, such as cancer treatment, and restricting annual limits on benefits until 2014, when they too will be banned. 
  • Banning insurance companies from canceling your coverage, a practice known as “rescission,” if you get sick or make a technical mistake on your application.  
  • Prohibits Discriminating Against Children With Pre-Existing Conditions

And if you purchase or join a new plan after September 23:

  • Insurance companies must cover recommended preventive services, including mammograms, colonoscopies, immunizations, pre-natal and new baby care without charging deductibles, co-payments or co-insurance.
  • Insurance companies will be prohibited from denying coverage for needed care without a chance to appeal to an independent third party. 
  • You will be guaranteed your choice of primary care provider within your plan’s network of doctors, including OB-GYNs and pediatricians, without a referral, as well as out-of-network emergency care. 

And the new law is already extending coverage to Americans who have been uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through the new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, providing tax credits to small businesses who offer insurance to their workers and making it easier for companies to offer health benefits to their early retirees.

Here are some of the striking numbers featured in today’s Census report and how the Affordable Care Act begins to address them: 

Census Uninsurance Data  Affordable Care Act Solutions
50.7 million Americans were uninsured in 2009 When fully implemented the Affordable Care Act  will reduce the number of uninsured by 32 million
6.6 million less people had coverage through their employer in 2009.  There were 27.8 million working uninsured adults.

The Affordable Care Act offers small businesses tax credits to pay for their employees’ health coverage.  Up to 4 million small businesses could qualify for these credits.  

The Affordable Care Act sets up competitive private health insurance exchanges, where uninsured individuals and small businesses can pool together to buy coverage.  Health exchanges are estimated to cover 24 million people, when fully implemented. 

42.3 million, or 22.3 percent of non-elderly adults were uninsured in 2009

 The Affordable Care Act sets up competitive, private health insurance exchanges where individuals and small businesses can pool together to buy coverage.  Individuals with household incomes under 400 percent of poverty ($88,200 for a family of four) and certain small businesses will receive help paying for coverage. 

The Affordable Care Act   expands Medicaid for individuals and families with up to 133 percent of household income.  16 million people are estimated to gain coverage because of the Medicaid expansion.

8.9 million, or 30.4 percent of young adults ages 18 to 24 were uninsured in 2009 In addition to other coverage expansions, the Affordable Care Act allows young adults to stay on their parents plan until age 26.  Up to 2.4 million young adults, up to 1.8 million who are uninsured and nearly 600,000 with individual market coverage, could gain coverage through their parents.


Nancy-Ann DeParle is the Director of the White House Office of Health Reform