Washington, DC…Hi, everybody. When I took office seven years ago this week, more than 15% of Americans went without health insurance. For folks who did have coverage, insurance companies could deny you coverage or charge you more just because you’d been sick. And too many Americans gave up their dreams of changing jobs or going back to school because they couldn’t risk giving up their employer-based insurance plan.
We’ve changed that. As the Affordable Care Act has taken effect, nearly 18 million Americans have gained coverage. In fact, for the first time ever, more than 90 percent of Americans are covered. Up to 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage or be charged more just because they’ve been sick. 137 million Americans with private insurance are now guaranteed preventive care coverage. We’ve done all this while cutting our deficits and keeping health care inflation to its lowest levels in fifty years. And we’ve begun filling the gaps in employer-based care so that when we change jobs, lose a job, go back to school, or start that new business, we can still get coverage.
If you want to know how important that is, just ask an American like Heather Bragg.
Heather’s a small business owner in Bluffton, South Carolina. Last year, she wrote me a letter and told me how, for years, her family had depended on her husband’s job for their insurance. But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, her husband Mike had the freedom to switch jobs and join Heather at the small business she’d launched a few years ago.
Through the Health Insurance Marketplace, they found better coverage that actually saved them hundreds of dollars a month. Today, Heather only pays about ten dollars for the asthma inhaler she needs. “For the first time,” Heather wrote, “we’re not living paycheck to paycheck; we’re able to pay our bills and put some money back into savings.” And because Mike doesn’t have to work nights or weekends anymore, he can coach their son’s soccer team and tuck the kids in at night. And you can’t put a price on something like that.
If you haven’t looked at your new coverage options, you’ve still got time to get covered on the Health Insurance Marketplace for 2016. You have until January 31 – next Sunday – to enroll. Just go to HealthCare.gov, CuidadoDeSalud.gov, or call 1-800-318-2596. Most folks buying a plan on the Marketplace can find an option that costs less than $75 a month. Even if you already have insurance, take a few minutes to shop around. In fact, consumers who switched to a new plan for 2016 ended up saving an average of more than $500.
That’s what the Affordable Care Act did. This is health care in America today. Affordable, portable security for you and your loved ones. It’s making a difference for millions of Americans every day. And it’s only going to get better. Thanks, and have a great weekend.