ACA at 5 Years: 25 Numbers to Know

March 30, 2015

When President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on March 23, 2010, he said the landmark measure would enshrine "the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their healthcare."

Five years later, the ACA could use a little security itself. Congressional Republicans continue to call for its repeal, just as they did as the ink was drying on the law's presidential signature in 2010. The House has voted 54 times to void, defund, delay, or otherwise amend the ACA, according to the Washington Post. And the Supreme Court is deliberating on a legal challenge to the law's premium subsidies in 34 states that could undo its attempt to extend health insurance coverage to more Americans.

Nevertheless, the act, popularly known as Obamacare, has made it to a fifth birthday with something to show for itself. Medscape Medical News has created a paint-by-numbers portrait of the law, with its beauty spots and warts.

The stats come from federal agencies and think-tanks such as the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Urban Institute. Because different institutions use different time frames and methodologies to arrive at estimates of the law's effect, some figures here may vary somewhat from those published elsewhere.

37.2 million: Number of Americans who were uninsured in the first 9 months of 2014, a decrease of 23% from 2010, when the ACA was passed.

11.7 million: Number of Americans who have signed up or reenrolled for coverage on ACA insurance exchanges for 2015.

46%: Increase in the number of Americans signing up for coverage in an ACA exchange plan from 2014 to 2015.

2.3 million: Number of young adults who gained coverage from 2010 through September 2013 by staying on their parents' health insurance plan up to age 26 years.

28: Number of states, along with Washington, DC, that expanded their Medicaid eligibility requirements under the ACA.

11.2 million: Number of additional Americans enrolled in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program in January 2015 compared with in the fall of 2013, 86% of them in states that expanded their Medicaid programs.

30,700: Jobs that Alabama would have gained each year through 2020 if it had expanded its Medicaid program.

900,000: Number of Americans whose individual or employer-sponsored health policies were cancelled for 2015 because they did not comply with the ACA.

$7.4 billion: Drop in uncompensated care for hospitals nationwide in 2014 resulting from ACA exchange coverage and Medicaid expansion.

46%: Percentage of Americans who said they approved of the ACA in the first Kaiser Family Foundation tracking polling in April 2010.

50%: Highest ever approval rating for the law in the Kaiser Family Foundation poll, posted in June 2010.

33%: Lowest ever approval rating for the law, posted in November 2013 during the glitchy rollout of

41%: Approval rating for the law in March 2015.

87%: Percentage of 2015 enrollees in ACA exchange plans in the 37 states using who receive a premium subsidy in the form of a tax credit.

$3960: Average premium subsidy (annual) in 2015.

1 in 2: Number of American households eligible for a premium subsidy in 2014 who will have to pay some money back to the government in 2015 because of income changes.

$794: Estimated average payment these households will owe the government in 2015.

$15 billion: Amount saved so far by 9 million Medicare beneficiaries receiving prescription drugs as a result of the law's shrinkage of the infamous Part D "doughnut hole."

18: ACA tax increases, new taxes, fees, and penalties the Heritage Foundation counted in a government analysis of the ACA.

15: Number of seats on the law's Independent Payment Advisory Board, created to curb Medicare spending and loathed by organized medicine.

0: Number of people appointed to the Independent Payment Advisory Board so far.

26%/12%: Percentages of Republicans and Democrats, respectively, who said in March 2015 that an ACA government panel helps make decisions about patients' end-of-life care. As in a "death panel."

$10: Threshold for "transfers of values" to physicians — think of a $10 bag of bagels from a pharmaceutical representative — that drug and device makers must report to the government, as required by the ACA's Sunshine Act.

0.3%: Percentage point increase in new-patient visits as a proportion of all visits for primary care physicians from 2013 (22.6%) to 2014 (22.9%), when insurance coverage expanded under the ACA.

3: Number of lawsuits about the ACA that have made it to the Supreme Court: National Federation of Independent Business v Sebelius (individual mandate and Medicaid expansion), Burwell v Hobby Lobby (contraception coverage mandate), and King v Burwell (premium subsidies). The last case is pending.


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