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Something to celebrate: Affordable Care Act’s birthday in Oregon

Blog post
March 23, 2018By Janet Bauer

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) turns eight this week, and is more popular than ever. For Oregonians, it’s an anniversary worth celebrating. While there is still room to improve, many more Oregonians have health care thanks to the ACA.

At the time the Affordable Care Act was approved by Congress in 2010, 83 percent of Oregonians had health insurance. Six years later in 2016 (the year of the most recent Census figures), 94 percent of Oregonians had health insurance. The law had changed the market in fundamental ways to make health insurance more accessible.

The benefits of the ACA go beyond increasing health coverage. The Act created universal standards for health insurance and required insurers to offer a comprehensive set of services to everyone. This means Oregonians can no longer be denied coverage for most services they need, and preventive services are free.

The Affordable Care Act also made health care more affordable for consumers. About 350,000 low-income Oregonians have gained no-cost coverage through the Oregon Health Plan, and more than 100,000 others get subsidies to buy private insurance. Although more should be done to make health care more affordable, consumers are now less likely to break the bank when they get care.

For women in particular, the improvements wrought by the Affordable Care Act have been profound. A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund found that women now have an easier time finding affordable plans than before the Affordable Care Act, are more likely to get preventive screenings, and are less likely to delay or skip getting care they need because of cost.

The benefits of the Affordable Care Act for Oregonians are real. We can take a moment at its anniversary to celebrate these gains. Then we must resume our vigilance to protect these gains against continued efforts to undermine the law, as we continue working toward the ultimate goal of ensuring that all Oregonians have access to affordable, quality health care.