Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

317 million reasons to love Obamacare

By Sally Kohn
updated 4:27 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sally Kohn: There are more than 317 million reasons to celebrate Obamacare
  • Kohn: With 6 million sign-ups, the young, poor, elderly and chronically ill all benefit
  • She says Americans want to keep Obamacare and fix it rather than get rid of it
  • Kohn: Over time, not even the most partisan Republicans will be able to attack it

Editor's note: Sally Kohn is a progressive activist, columnist and television commentator. Follow her on Twitter @sallykohn. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- More than 6 million Americans signed up for Obamacare before the March 31 deadline to get private health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. This is great news for the Obama administration.

But there are millions more reasons to celebrate Obamacare. Actually, at the writing of this essay, there are more than 317 million reasons — because that's the population of the United States of America and every single one of us can benefit from health care reform. How? Here's a rundown by the numbers:

3.1 million

Sally Kohn
Sally Kohn

That's how many young adults can get coverage because of the provision in Obamacare that allows them to stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26.

105 million

That's how many Americans no longer have lifetime expense caps, whether it's because they have chronic illnesses or because their insurance company set restrictive policies.

6.1 million

Inside Politics: Is WH "Cooking Books"?
Obamacare enrollment reaches 6 million

That's how many Americans with Medicare Part D no longer have to go through the "doughnut hole" coverage gap. This means seniors can save more than $5.7 billion on prescription drugs.

3.2 million

That's the number of small businesses estimated to be eligible for tax credits for providing health insurance to their 19.3 million employees nationwide, credits worth $15.4 billion in 2011 alone.

4.4 million

That's how many low-income adults will now have access to health insurance thanks to states implementing the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare; an additional 5.8 million poor adults would be included in this count if 25 mostly Republican-led states weren't refusing Medicaid expansion.

50 to 129 million

That's how many people will benefit from the Obamacare provision that eliminates all bars for coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Studies say that anywhere from 19% to 50% of non-elderly Americans have health conditions that could qualify as pre-existing conditions.

49.4 million

That's how many current Medicare enrollees can feel secure knowing that, under Obamacare, existing Medicare benefits can neither be reduced nor taken away.

317 million

-- That's how many Americans — i.e., all of us — potentially benefit from the requirement that insurance companies provide flu shots, HIV screenings, prostate exams, mammograms and FDA-approved contraception for free, without a co-pay.

-- Plus, we all benefit from new requirements that insurance companies must spend at least 80% of our premium dollars on our health care as opposed to marketing or administration.

-- We all benefit from the new requirement that insurance companies publicly justify their actions if they want to raise premiums by 10% or more.

-- We all benefit from knowing that our insurance can now never be capped or canceled at the whim of insurance companies.

As high quality care is maintained while costs may go down because of improved coverage and access, we all benefit from a more affordable and effective health care system.

What about, you ask, the estimated 4.7 million Americans who lost their current insurance plans during the rollout of Obamacare? Well, according to a congressional report, 2.35 million or so can take advantage of the Obama administration's decision to grandfather those plans through 2014.

Another 1.4 million qualify for Medicaid expansion or subsidies in the Obamacare exchanges. On top of that, the Obama administration has agreed that a "hardship exemption" built into health care reform for any American facing major challenges in complying with the law would be interpreted to include those whose policies had been canceled. In other words, they won't be penalized.

When Republicans rolled out stories of alleged Obamacare victims, the details were usually debunked in some way. The truth is that many of the canceled plans were no longer legal under Obamacare because they neither covered the basic things insurance should cover or, worse, were dangerously designed to explode the minute the insured got sick: what Consumer Reports has called "junk insurance."

Arguing that people should be able to keep these plans is like arguing that people should still be allowed to drive defective Chevy Cobalts or cars without seat belts. Like it or not, the government's job is to help keep us safe and insurance companies that were peddling shoddy products were doing the opposite.

Polls show most Americans want to keep Obamacare and work to fix it rather than replace or get rid of health care reform altogether. And there's much to suggest support for Obamacare would be even higher were it not for constant Republican attacks and misinformation about the law.

After all, when Americans find out what specific provisions are included in Obamacare, they overwhelmingly support them. Eighty percent support the extension of dependent coverage, 79% support closing the Medicare "doughnut hole," 77% support eliminating out-of-pocket costs for preventive services, 74% support the expansion of Medicaid. These Obamacare components are even supported by a majority of Republicans.

And it's still early. As more Americans access private health insurance choices through the exchange marketplace, receive care minus the discrimination and dirty tricks that insurance companies could get away with in the past, we'll see more people getting the medicine they need, screened for cancer sooner in more treatable stages and pay less for good care.

Every day, as we all see the benefits of health care reform in our lives, support for Obamacare will grow stronger. Before long, not even the most partisan Republicans will be able to attack it.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:01 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Paul Callan says the grand jury is the right process to use to decide if charges should be brought against the police officer
updated 12:19 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Theresa Brown says the Ebola crisis brought nurses into the national conversation on health care. They need to stay there.
updated 6:35 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Patrick Hornbeck says don't buy the hype: The arguments the Vatican used in its interim report would have virtually guaranteed that same-sex couples remained second class citizens
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Paul Begala says Iowa's U.S. Senate candidate, Joni Ernst, told NRA she has right to use gun to defend herself--even from the government. But shooting at officials is not what the Founders had in mind
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
John Sutter: Why are we so surprised the head of a major international corporation learned another language?
updated 5:54 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Jason Johnson says Ferguson isn't a downtrodden community rising up against the white oppressor, but it is looking for justice
updated 12:21 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Sally Kohn says a video of little girls dressed as princesses using the F-word very loudly to condemn sexism is provocative. But is it exploitative?
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Timothy Stanley says Lewinsky is shamelessly playing the victim in her affair with Bill Clinton, humiliating Hillary Clinton again and aiding her critics
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Imagine being rescued from modern slavery, only to be charged with a crime, writes John Sutter
updated 12:00 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Tidal flooding used to be a relatively rare occurrence along the East Coast. Not anymore, write Melanie Fitzpatrick and Erika Spanger-Siegfried.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Carol Costello says activists, writers, politicians have begun discussing their abortions. But will that new approach make a difference on an old battleground?
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
updated 2:51 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Crystal Wright says racist remarks like those made by black Republican actress Stacey Dash do nothing to get blacks to join the GOP
updated 6:07 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Mel Robbins says by telling her story, Monica Lewinsky offers a lesson in confronting humiliating mistakes while keeping her head held high
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
updated 11:36 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
updated 10:21 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
updated 8:05 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
updated 4:33 PM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
updated 12:42 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
updated 4:27 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
updated 12:07 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
updated 6:45 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
updated 1:00 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
updated 9:35 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
updated 4:04 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
updated 9:07 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
updated 6:50 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Sat October 11, 2014
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT