Opponents of the Affordable Care Act have argued that it is a disaster for Virginians.

There have also been warnings that the ACA has caused health care costs to rise beyond people’s ability to pay. The truth is that health insurance for the vast majority of Virginians has remained intact and functioning seven years after passage of the ACA. Some argue that the insurance companies that service most residents in Virginia are not leaving the state any time soon. Insurance costs certainly have gone up for many employer plans but by a less amount than before Obamacare, experts say. They were rising before the ACA and have continued upward. But the steady increase has slowed since Obamacare was passed. Matthew Rae, a health policy analyst for Kaiser, said the rising insurance costs being borne by companies and workers is about the rising cost of medical goods and services – not Obamacare.
The overall driver of cost is absolutely not the Affordable Care Act,” Rae said. “The history of insurance is that prices go up and people consume more.”

Perhaps the most troubled element of the ACA is the insurance marketplaces in Virginia where the cost of health insurance has jumped for thousands of individuals and families who don’t have other options for coverage and make too much money to qualify for government-backed price breaks.

About six out of 10 people received insurance coverage through their jobs, including the military. Another 25 percent used government-run Medicare (for people 65 and older) or Medicaid  (for poorer residents). About five percent bought individual or family coverage on their own.

Monthly premiums in Virginia’s local exchanges will increase an average of 57 percent next year, a state legislative panel was told last month.

However, the eye-popping increase isn’t felt by most individual marketplace customers because they qualify for federal tax breaks or cost reductions that cover the increases. Close to 379,000 Virginians bought insurance in the marketplace last year, and 84 percent were able to substantially lower their payments with a tax credit that limited what they owed to a portion of their paycheck, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. [caption id="attachment_3766" align="aligncenter" width="310"]Virginia has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), although advocates and Governor Terry McAuliffe continue to push for it. Virginia has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), although advocates and Governor Terry McAuliffe continue to push for it.[/caption] Gov. Terry McAuliffe and others have argued that as many as 400,000 people without health insurance could be covered if the General Assembly would agree to participate in the ACA-backed expansion of Medicaid. The legislature has repeatedly rejected the expansion, with many arguing they cannot be assured that Washington will continue to fund the program. If federal support declines, Virginia could be left dealing with a massive expense. The ACA, passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in 2010, required for the first time that almost everyone have health insurance or face a tax penalty. It installed changes up and down the health care system that have been felt by most Americans. However, there was supposed to be a competitive marketplace where someone could shop for a reasonably priced plan if they couldn’t get it through their job, were too young for Medicare, or made too much money to qualify for Medicaid. But there is little competition for insurance, due in part to uncertainty in Washington about continued federal financial support for the exchanges.

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