A Montana economist said President Obama's Affordable Care Act helps address some of the problems with America's healthcare system, but not all.

Associate Director of Healthcare Research at the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Bryce Ward, said on Friday, March 14, that what is commonly called "Obamacare" is a better solution than what existed before the legislation was passed.

"Is this a perfect plan? No. Does it help solve some of our problems? Yes, and if you gave me the choice of leaving the system the way it was or choosing this, I'm going to choose this," Ward said. "

Ward said the healthcare system in the United States faces three big problems, and Obamacare addresses some of them, but not all.

"First, we have an access problem," he said. "We have a lot of people who just don't have health insurance, and even those who do, skip care, because it's just too expensive. That leads us to our second problem, that healthcare in this country is simply too expensive. Our premiums are expensive and we're paying more and more each year for out of pocket expenses. Thirdly, we're not very healthy for the amount of money we're paying."

Bryce said comparing costs and efficacy in healthcare between the U.S. and other industrialized countries reveals a glaring fact.

"We're spending more than they are, a lot more," Ward said. "In rough numbers, the U.S. spends over a trillion dollars a year overall in healthcare costs. So, the question is, what are we getting for that trillion dollars, and can we get more?"

Ward comes back to how Obamacare tries to address those three issues of access, cost and health outcomes.

"The main thing Obamacare tries to address is access," he said. "The goal is instead of having one in five people without health insurance, they're trying to get that number down closer to one in 20. It tried to do that without moving to a single-payer system, like Medicare for all, by forcing people into this new system, so, I think Obamacare does more good than harm when it comes to access. When it comes to the other two aspects of cost and health outcomes, the new system has some ideas, but they don't quite know how to do it. We know the big picture, but how to actually do it is very hard."

Ward has said he will appear on KGVO Radio's Talk Back program in the near future, where he can spend a full 90 minutes talking about healthcare, Obamacare and different ways to get more out of our healthcare dollars.

Associate Director of Healthcare Research at the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Bryce Ward