The ruling of U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer allowing Congress to pursue claims that the Obama administration bypassed legal protocol in its appropriation of tax dollars to further the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has put Obamacare back in the spotlight.
Five years after the controversial act was signed into effect, its legal basis, benefits and lack of benefits are still popular subjects in American conversations.
Statistics may not be able to prove the effectiveness of the ACA in reducing poverty and bettering public health, but they do shed some light on how many Americans now have health insurance coverage compared to past years.
The U.S. Census Bureau's report on Health Insurance in the United States indicates that after peaking in 2010 (at the height of the recession), the number of Americans without health insurance has gone down to even lower levels than we saw prior to the recession.
The results of the latest census show that the rate of uninsured Americans has dropped again, with only 10.4 percent (33 million people) living without health insurance during 2014 compared to 13.3 percent (41.8 million people) in 2013.
California, Arizona and Colorado are among the states that reported the biggest decrease in uninsured rates. Pennsylvania and Utah, among others, showed some of the lowest changes in the rates of residents with health insurance.
Overall growth in healthcare coverage is clearly linked to the stipulations put in place by the ACA which have made at least minimal health insurance coverage available to many Americans which were previously locked out due to chronic illness or poverty.
But the increase in the rate of U.S. residents taking out insurance policies may also have been affected by the implementation of ACA penalties in 2014.
Considering the fine for not voluntarily taking on health insurance in 2014 was a fairly low 1% of your yearly, above tax threshold, household income, or $95 minimum per eligible adult, it's not surprising that 7.5 million Americans chose to pay fines averaging $200 rather than take on the financial burden of health insurance (according to IRS data).
The fines paid in 2014 generated approximately $1.5 billion in payments to the IRS. But with the 2015 penalty set at 2% of your household income (above the tax threshold) or $325 minimum per eligible adult, the cost of putting off health insurance may no longer be worth it for most Americans.