A Gathering Voices post by Debra J. Mumford
If the goal of Obamacare is to provide access to healthcare for all U.S. citizens, then it has utterly failed. After the initial enrollment period, millions are still without healthcare insurance. 4.8 million people do not have health insurance because their states decided not to expand Medicaid. Many lawmakers like Texas governor Rick Perry have refused to expand Medicaid in particular or to support Obamacare in general. He believes that implementation of Obamacare will drive up taxes, crush state economies, and put good money into an already broken system. Millions of racial minorities are still uninsured. The rate of Hispanics without insurance is 33.2% though it is down 5.5 points since the end of 2013. The rate of African Americans without insurance fell more than for any other racial group to 13.8% from 20.9% at the end of 2013. Provisions of Obamacare to improve access to medical care for underserved populations have not yet narrowed the gap between Caucasians and racial minorities. Millions of undocumented immigrants are ineligible for health care coverage. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that in 2024, 9 million of the 31 million people who will still not have health insurance will be undocumented immigrants. This alarming statistic highlights the need for immigration reform.
However, if the goal of Obamacare is to provide access to health care for more Americans and the control the escalating costs of healthcare, then it is working quite well. 8 million Americans signed up for private insurance through the government website and healthcare exchanges all over the country. For many of these people, Obamacare was a Godsend. At Obamacareworks.org people have posted Obamacare success stories such as a woman in New Mexico who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and is now able to buy health coverage (through she has a preexisting condition); a man in New Mexico who now spends $300 a month on medication instead of $800 (before Obamacare), and a mother with two young adult children who both needed surgery. Without Obamacare the family would have been left destitute.
Along with the 8 million who have been able to purchase private insurance, another three million people whose income falls within 100% and 138% of poverty level are now enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program). People in this income bracket would ordinarily make too much money to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to buy their own insurance. The overall rate of uninsured is 13.4% which is the lowest it has been since 2008. People with disabilities no longer have to leave the workplace to access Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Insurance. They can now get their own private health care insurance policies thanks to lower premiums and generous subsidies.
Cost of insurance premiums offered by exchanges is lower in 2014 than originally projected. Though the costs of exchange premiums will rise in the coming years, the Congressional Budget office believes the costs will stabilize after 2016.
Whether or not we believe Obamacare is working depends on our expectations of the law. As for me, I applaud the progress the law has made in expanding health care coverage. I am heartened by the stories of people whose lives have been positively impacted by the law. I also believe that I and other people of faith should not rest until the positive stories currently being told by some can be told by all. A luta continua.
Want to learn more about Obamacare? Click here to download "Update on Obamacare" - a free downloadable study by Debra J. Mumford.
Debra J. Mumford is a professor of homiletics and Associate Dean for Student Academic Affairs at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
 Robert T. Garrett, Perry, Cornyn, Cruz Assail Medicaid Expansion as Unwise(The Dallas Morning News, 2013, accessed May 28, 2014); available from http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2013/04/perry-cornyn-cruz-assail-medicaid-expansion-as-unwise.html/.
 Affordable Care Act Summary, (Obamacare Facts: Dispelling the Myths, 2014, accessed May 29, 2014); available from http://obamacarefacts.com/affordablecareact-summary.php.
 "Updated Estimates of the Effects of the Insurance Coverage Provisions of the Affordable Care Act, April 2014," ed. Congressional Budget Office (Congress of the United States, 2014), 7.
 Ibid., 8.