51:4 The Future of the Affordable Care Act: Protecting Economic Health More than Physical Health?

Abstract

Mark Hall has written a terrific symposium paper. It is exactly the kind of scholarship that we need to see as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues its roll out. We can make educated guesses about the impact of the ACA, but we will not be able to make reliable judgments until we have hard data. By measuring actual outcomes, we will be able to sort out disagreements among experts regarding the likely effects of the ACA’s various provisions.

While observers have focused on questions about the extent to which the ACA will improve access to care, reduce the costs of care, and improve the quality of care, commentary has largely ignored an even more important question—to what extent will the ACA improve health? Surprisingly, the link between health care insurance and health is more tenuous than one might think. In the end, the ACA may do more to protect the financial health of poor Americans than to improve their physical health.