March 23, 2022 – Today, we celebrate the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) passage back in 2010. This landmark legislation revolutionized health care by providing lifesaving coverage expansions and protections across the country. In Massachusetts, where we had passed our own health reform a few years prior, the ACA strengthened the state’s ability to provide affordable coverage to all of its residents.
Many people know the highlights about this historic law: 20 million people gained access to health care coverage, young people were allowed to stay on parents’ insurance until age 26, drug coverage for seniors on Medicare expanded dramatically and free preventative health care, including contraceptives, was more widely available. However, the numbers and details go even deeper:
- 133 million (that’s 133,000,000!) people with pre-existing conditions are protected from being denied coverage by insurers.
- States were allowed to expand Medicaid eligibility up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. In Massachusetts, this Medicaid expansion meant that 300,000 more adults qualified for MassHealth programs.
- Plans were required to cover women’s preventative health services with no cost sharing (e.g. co-payments). Currently, 58 million women with private insurance benefit from these preventative service provisions.
These details can blend together and we may lose sight of the impact of the ACA on individuals and families. HCFA’s HelpLine stands as a constant reminder of what these protections mean for thousands of Massachusetts residents. The HelpLine’s goal is to help consumers apply for and understand their health coverage options in linguistically and culturally appropriate ways. Every year, the HelpLine takes an average of 20,000 calls in Portuguese, Spanish and English from people who have questions about the Massachusetts health care system.
The Affordable Care Act is a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of people in Massachusetts and millions across the country. Everyone at HCFA is committed to fulfilling the promise of the ACA by ensuring no one falls through the cracks. We will continue to carry this torch while advancing health equity and coverage for all in the name of health justice in Massachusetts
Davis Jackson is Health Care For All’s Communications & Development Associate