Reflecting on milestones, obstacles as ACA turns five

The Affordable Care Act turns five today, and it's safe to say the law has had a interesting life so far.

Ever since implementation, opponents have fought the ACA. There have been numerous proposed alternative plans, as well as two highly publicized Supreme Court cases--one dealing with the individual mandate and the other discussing the legality of federal subsides.

However, despite these obstacles, it's clear that "this law is working, and in many ways, it's working even better than anticipated," according to a statement released by President Barack Obama.

About 16.4 million Americans have gained private health insurance coverage over the past five years: 14.1 million adults over the age of 26 and 2.3 million young adults who were able to remain on their parents' plans, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last week. Additionally, close to 11.2 million additional individuals gained coverage through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Plans as of January 2015, HHS announced Friday.

"These aren't just numbers," President Obama said. "Because of this law, there are parents who can finally afford to take their kids to the doctor. There are families who no longer risk losing their home or savings just because someone gets sick."

What's more, though more Americans oppose the law than favor it, the gap is at its closest margin in over two years--43 percent of respondents in a recent Kaiser Health Tracking poll view the ACA unfavorably, while 41 percent view it favorably, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

With five candles blown out on the ACA's birthday cake, it's time to focus on the future. Here are some industry trends to watch in the wake of the healthcare reform law's birthday, according to a new report by PwC:

  • The rise of retail insurance. As more individuals enroll via the public exchanges, it becomes clearer that an emphasis will be placed on the consumer.
  • The role of states. Especially in light of the King v. Burwell case, states are well positioned to redefine their roles in the industry. For instance, should the Supreme Court strike down federal subsidies, states using the federal exchange may need to step in and establish their own marketplaces, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

For more:
- here's President Obama's statement
- here's the HHS announcement