Affordable Care Act May Have Helped Save More Than 50,000 Lives

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The Affordable Care Act, which has brought healthcare to the freelance economy, is also apparently the reason why some 50,000 patient deaths in hospitals have been prevented, according to a speech made by President Barack Obama in March.

A recent national survey commissioned by the Freelancers Union revealed that there are some 53 million people in the U.S. who consider themselves freelancers in some capacity. That’s 53 million people who don’t have an employer to provide them with affordable health insurance.

This means that, for example, should a freelancing woman suffer from uterine fibroids, she would not be able to afford a hysterectomy, the most common medical procedure for fibroids. She would either need to live on suffering from such symptoms as abnormal menstrual bleeding, lower back pain, abdominal pressure, and worse — or pay thousands upon thousands out of pocket for treatment.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), luckily, brings these hardworking, self-employed Americans the healthcare they need. If they don’t have access to health insurance through an employer, individuals who make less than $46,680 or families of four making up to $95,400 qualify for a government subsidy under the law.

Thanks to the ACA, some 50,000 potential deaths have been prevented. A study from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality notes that “the precise causes of the decline in patient harm are not fully understood,” but also says the “increase in safety has occurred during a period of concerted attention by hospitals throughout the country to reduce adverse events” through programs such as the Partnership for Patients, an ACA program that ties thousands of hospitals together in 27 different networks with the goal of reducing 10 categories of patient harm.

The study examined the impact of the program from 2010 to 2013, and is only an estimate. Relying on over 30,000 medical records, researchers looked at how many fewer patient-related problems had happened in hospitals, and then used that number to determine just how many lives may have been saved thanks to the ACA’s funding. Basically, there were about 1.3 million fewer incidents over the three year period, about 50,000 of which could have potentially been fatal.

“There is some uncertainty about these estimates,” one administrative official told The Fact Checker. “In some cases, the literature [on excess mortality] is better than others. But it is quite conceivable that 1.3 million fewer people are being harmed.”

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