Despite open enrollment ending March 31, Cynthia Cox, senior policy analyst at the Kaiser Family Foundation, says that the success of the Affordable Care Act will depend on a number of factors – and is what really matters in the long-term.

It is too soon to tell whether the ACA as a whole has been successful, Cox explains. Despite an estimated 7 million Americans signing up through March 31, it is still unclear how well the coverage in the law will work over time, “so the overall success of the ACA will depend on a number of factors such as whether most people uninsured now get coverage and if they perceive that coverage to be a good deal,” she says.

Moving Forward

In the coming years, the states and federal governments still have a lot to do and many decisions ahead of them, Cox says. That includes fixing their enrollment websites — Maryland and Oregon, for instance had issues worse than, since open enrollment began.

But Cox says while reaching so many people was an important political milestone, it is not a magical number. “Some states like California are leading the way, where other states are having a more difficult time enrolling people,” she says.

We also don’t know much about those who enrolled, including how healthy they are and how much health care they are going to use, Cox says.

“What matters in the long term is getting enough healthy people and that likelihood is increased if more people enroll,” she adds. “That is a bigger focus down the road.”

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