This past Tuesday, two U.S. senators and former presidential candidates participated in a televised debate with American health care and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as the topic. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) engaged in a town hall style debate primarily on whether the ACA should be repealed and what could replace it.   The healthcare law often called Obamacare has been the focus of controversy since its implementation in 2010. The Affordable Care Act was designed to lower the uninsured rate and expand insurance coverage with the ultimate goal of reducing the cost of health care. It removed barriers for many Americans with pre-existing conditions and other underserved communities’ access to health insurance. It faced strong opposition by the GOP, saying it

would instead increase healthcare costs and disrupt the current insurance markets. The Republican-majority House of Representatives went so far as to vote over 60 times to repeal the law; none of the attempts were successful.   Senator Sanders’ opening remarks highlighted that repealing the ACA would effectively end the coverage of the millions of Americans who are insured because of the law. He went on to say that it is a flawed law that would be improved by a single-payer “Medicare for All” system, which Obamacare acts as a step towards, pointing out that the United States is the only major country on Earth to not guarantee health care to all its people. Senator Cruz pointed to broken promises of the ACA, saying that it…

We are barely two weeks into 2016, and there have already been attempts to limit access to healthcare for Americans.  Last week President Obama vetoed a bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) and cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood.  The veto marks the first time a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act has passed through Congress after more than 50 attempts. In previous blog posts, we explored how the ACA has in fact insured over 10 million people and the many services provided by Planned Parenthood to both men and women.   In the latest annual report from Planned Parenthood (2014-2015) the health impact has shown some notable declines in number of people served with cancer and/or STI

screenings, likely related to the closings of Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas and other states.  Abortions still only account for 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services. In the time covered by the report, only 43% of the Planned Parenthood’s funding comes from government grants and reimbursements. These funds are prohibited from being used for abortions, and instead allow Planned Parenthood affiliates to provide cancer screenings, STI tests and treatment, and educate patients on their sexual and reproductive health.  Cutting federal funding to Planned Parenthood would have a larger impact on cancer rates as opposed to the abortion services targeted by political parties. To illustrate this point: Planned Parenthood provided 865,721 pap tests and breast exams for women at risk of cancer in their 2013-2014 report;…

Having health insurance is vital to one’s health and financial well-being in the United States.  Out-of-pocket medical expenses are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy.  Even with new laws such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—aka “Obamacare”—11.7% of Americans remain uninsured.   Analysts have only recently been able to examine the data of uninsured rates prior to ACA’s implementation to now.  WalletHub released the stats for all 50 states and Washington DC and ranked each by their current uninsured rate; Massachusetts is ranked highest with only 3.28% uninsured, and Texas is ranked last with 19.06%. In numbers, even the last-ranked state Texas reduced children’s uninsured rate by 23.88% and adult uninsured rate by 19.27% between 2010 and 2014. Even with the current highest rate of uninsured Americans,

827,997 people gained health insurance coverage in Texas in the years being analyzed.   Over 10,000,000 previously uninsured Americans are now covered under the ACA.  In a previous blog post, we discussed how the ACA was helping seniors as compared to 2013—especially in states that expanded Medicaid. The new numbers illustrate the whole effect of the ACA on the entire population as compared to before the implementation of the law as well as comparing Medicaid-expanded states and states that did not expand Medicaid. Source: WalletHub   NeedyMeds’ mission is to help those facing the high costs of health care. For those unable to afford their medications, NeedyMeds has an extensive database of Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). NeedyMeds also has information on Coupons and…

Last month, we posted a blog about how many Americans are spending more than $50,000 or even $100,000 a year on medications—more  people than ever before. The information included insured Americans and found that insurance covered an average of 97% of prescription costs for those spending at least $50,000. At NeedyMeds, there are many assistance programs for those who are in need.  However, even with new laws and regulations there are those stuck in between.   There are patients in America that make too much money to qualify for assistance but still not enough to pay all their medical bills.  Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) and non-profit organizations often have limits to how much income a person or family makes in a year to

be eligible for their services.  Good jobs and good insurance can still leave patients paying huge amounts for prescribed medications.   Some medications for serious or chronic diseases such as lupus can cost $2500 per dose. Even with insurance that pays 80% of the drug price there is a $450 out-of-pocket payment, which does not include monthly insurance premiums or other medical costs.  One hepatitis C drug costs $84,000 for a 12-week course. While some patients end up taking on massive amounts of debt, others opt out of taking their medication at the risk of more serious health problems in the future.   According to Truveris, a drug pricing research firm, the price of prescription drugs rose 10.9% in 2014 compared to 2013. Pharmaceutical companies often blame…

In the past five years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there have been strong supporters and fierce opponents.  No matter what side of the ACA one falls, it’s hard to deny the positive results it has had in some people’s lives. Since 2013, uninsured rate dropped by 31% among Americans ages 50-64.   Elderly Americans are among the most underserved populations in the country, and are at risk of struggling with poverty and disparity in health care.  The ACA expanded access to health insurance coverage to 50- to 64-year-olds through several provisions, including expanding eligibility for Medicaid, subsidies for consumers purchasing coverage through the new health insurance Marketplaces, prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher rates based on

medical history, and restricting how much insurers can increase premiums for older consumers.  Prior to the ACA this age group often went without access to health insurance due to high costs, denials based on pre-existing conditions, and limited Medicaid eligibility. Between December 2013 and December 2014, uninsured rates dropped from 11.6% to 8% among Americans 50- to 64-years-old—nearly a third. In the 27 states that expanded Medicaid, the number is closer to half with 9.8% uninsured dropping to 5.5%. States that did not expand Medicaid also saw a drop in uninsured rates among 50-64 year olds, though not nearly as high by comparison to states that did expand and below the national average. The percentage of 50-64 year olds on Medicaid in states that expanded their…