March 27, 2023
(Mountaineer News) - Thirteen years have passed since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded health insurance coverage for more than 156,000 West Virginians. Despite the controversies surrounding the ACA, its impact on healthcare is still being felt today.
The West Virginia Citizen Action Group's executive director, Gary Zuckett, highlighted a new law that caps insulin copays at $35 monthly. He commended the state's ability to pass this legislation in a "red" legislature, demonstrating that healthcare is not a partisan issue.
According to federal data, nationwide enrollment in health insurance plans has doubled to more than 16 million since the launch of the federal health insurance exchange. Additionally, the Medicaid expansion included in the ACA allowed over 200,000 West Virginians to gain access to health coverage, as reported by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
However, as the "continuous coverage" rules that were enacted during the pandemic expire on April 1, the state will re-evaluate individuals' eligibility, which could cause a setback in progress. Many people may not qualify or fail to fill out paperwork, which could result in losing health insurance for up to 50,000 to 100,000 people, as Zuckett warned.
Despite these challenges, America's Health Rankings reported that only 6% of West Virginians were uninsured in 2021, a significant improvement from the nearly 16% of the state's population who lacked coverage before the ACA. West Virginia continues to navigate the challenges of healthcare coverage while working towards providing access to quality healthcare for all its residents.