SEPTEMBER 2019 12 BenefitsPRO magazine
It’s telling to take a closer look at the effects of the
ACA. Yes, the number of Americans with health insur-
ance increased under the ACA, from 72 percent in 2010
to 78 percent in 2018, according to a recent Common-
wealth Fund survey. However, Commonwealth said
the number of insured Americans who are designated
as underinsured increased by nearly the same percent-
age during that time—from 16 percent to 23 percent.
Then dig a bit deeper. Look at those employees who
receive health insurance through an employer. Omi-
nously, Commonwealth reported, “the greatest deteri-
oration in the quality and comprehensiveness of cover-
age has occurred among people in employer plans.”
This data tells us two kinds of barriers to access-
ing health care exist: Services that simply cannot be
accessed by an individual; and services that, in theory,
are accessible, but are blocked by an obstacle that can
be overcome only through education, assistance or
Studies show that the number-one obstacle to
Low health literacy, high skin-in-the game and
dwindling physician ranks present significant
barriers to basic health services.
he U.S. health care system continues to struggle with the concept
of universal access to basic medical services. For success stories, we
are referred to the millions who now have health coverage thanks to the Patient
Protection and Affordable Care Act. Or we are told to consider Medicaid expansion,
which theoretically opened up access to millions more.
Yet the reality is far different.
Even for those now theoretically able to receive health care via Medicaid expansion, accessing
those services has proven elusive. A shortage of physicians is one cause; clinics’ reluctance
to accept new Medicaid patients another. Additionally, a generally low level of health literacy
among all U.S. adults is a third, and more troubling, cause of lack of access.
BY DAN COOK