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 1:33 AM EST, Thu December 25, 2014
Danny Cevallos says the legislature didn't have to get involved in regulating how people greet each other
updated 6:12 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Marc Harrold suggests a way to move forward after the deaths of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
updated 8:36 AM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Simon Moya-Smith says Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, who was killed by law enforcement officers, deserves justice.
updated 2:14 PM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Val Lauder says that for 1,700 years, people have been debating when, and how, to celebrate Christmas
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Raphael Sperry says architects should change their ethics code to ban involvement in designing torture chambers
updated 10:35 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Paul Callan says Sony is right to call for blocking the tweeting of private emails stolen by hackers
updated 7:57 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As Christmas arrives, eyes turn naturally toward Bethlehem. But have we got our history of Christmas right? Jay Parini explores.
updated 11:29 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
The late Joe Cocker somehow found himself among the rock 'n' roll aristocracy who showed up in Woodstock to help administer a collective blessing upon a generation.
updated 4:15 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
History may not judge Obama kindly on Syria or even Iraq. But for a lame duck president, he seems to have quacking left to do, says Aaron Miller.
updated 1:11 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Terrorism and WMD -- it's easy to understand why these consistently make the headlines. But small arms can be devastating too, says Rachel Stohl.
updated 1:08 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Ever since "Bridge-gate" threatened to derail Chris Christie's chances for 2016, Jeb Bush has been hinting he might run. Julian Zelizer looks at why he could win.
updated 1:53 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
New York's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing was more about politics than good environmental policy, argues Jeremy Carl.
updated 3:19 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
On perhaps this year's most compelling drama, the credits have yet to roll. But we still need to learn some cyber lessons to protect America, suggest John McCain.
updated 5:39 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
updated 8:12 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
updated 12:09 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
updated 6:45 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
updated 4:34 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
updated 2:51 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
updated 4:13 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
updated 7:55 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
updated 12:34 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
updated 8:42 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
updated 12:40 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT