What’s in it for California?

The Affordable Care Act was signed into law in March 2010 and was fully implemented in 2014. The law did several things, among them: 

  • Prohibited insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions 
  • Required that insurers cover young adults on their parents’ plans up to age 26
  • Eliminated annual and lifetime limits on coverage  

The law also allowed states to choose whether to expand their Medicaid programs for low-income people, meaning more could qualify.  And notably, the act created state-based marketplaces, such as Covered California, where people shop and enroll in health insurance. Through these marketplaces people can access federal subsidies that help keep their premium costs down. In California, enrollees may also qualify for state-based aid. 

Eliminating the Affordable Care Act without any replacement from Congress would cause more than 5 million people in California to lose their subsidized insurance or their Medicaid coverage (Medi-Cal in this state) through the program’s expansion, which some state officials have called a disaster during a pandemic. 

California’s rate of people without insurance dropped from 17.2% in 2013 to 7.7% in 2019. By comparison, Texas, which wants to eliminate the law, continues to have the nation’s highest percentage of uninsured residents. Its uninsured rate dropped from 22.1% in 2013 to 18.4% in 2019.