The Affordable Care Act and the U.S. Economy: A Five-Year Perspective

Commonwealth Fund

This report provides a five-year perspective on the impact the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has had on the U.S. economy since the law’s enactment. It discusses trends in economic growth, employment, and health care costs since 2010, as well as the national experience prior to that time, and compares the recovery in the United States with that in other high-income countries.

Although it is impossible to state with absolute certainty the full extent to which the ACA’s reforms have contributed to the nation’s recovery from one of the worst economic crises of recent decades, the news has been, on balance, positive. To date, there is no evidence that the ACA has had a negative impact on economic growth or jobs or that its reforms have undermined full-time employment—effects that the law’s opponents had warned about. To the contrary, evidence indicates that the ACA has likely acted as an economic stimulus, in part by freeing up private and public resources for investment in jobs and production capacity. Moreover, the law’s payment and other cost-related reforms appear to have contributed to the marked slowdown in health spending growth seen in recent years.
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