The much anticipated Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on The American Healthcare Act (AHCA) came out yesterday. The facts contained within the report can be unsettling for some people. The CBO reports that by 2026 an estimated 23 million Americans will be uninsured if this plan replaces the Affordable Care Act (ACA). One of the goals the Republicans had when they first started to craft the new bill was to lower the deficit. In that aspect, maybe the bill will be a success. The AHCA is estimated to lower the deficit by $119 billion over the next ten years. This is far different from the first version of the AHCA. When the CBO first looked at the AHCA, they estimated that it would save an amazing $337 billion over a ten year time period.
As it looks now from the CBO, some Americans will have their premiums lowered by the new healthcare reform bill. This is one of the highlights of the bill, but it is followed up by many more questionable concerns. One of the low-lights of the bill, revolves around the markets. The CBO reports that it could also have the great possibility of destabilizing the healthcare insurance individual markets. This would lead to the most vulnerable ones in our society being unable to purchase reasonable health insurance. The CBO reports that:
“The market for insurance purchased individually with premiums not based on one’s health status—that is, non-group coverage without medical underwriting—would be unstable if, for example, the people who wanted to buy coverage at any offered price would have average health care expenditures so high that offering the insurance would be unprofitable”.
This is very troubling for Americans for both moral and ethical reasons. If the health insurance markets are destabilized by the passage of the AHCA, Republicans will find themselves in a dyer situation come election time with their constituents.
It is true that with the current healthcare policy, premiums have been on the rise over the past few years. The high premiums are offset by subsidies that lower income enrollees receive from the ACA market place. The CBO reports:
“Although premiums have been rising under current law, most subsidized enrollees purchasing health insurance coverage in the non-group market are largely insulated from increases in premiums because their out-of-pocket payments for premiums are based on a percentage of their income; the government pays the difference between that percentage and the premiums for a reference plan.”
Under the current law, the subsidies along with the individual mandate (a mandate that makes people buy insurance or take a penalty) will help to ensure enough people will purchase insurance so there would not be any significant damage done to the health insurance markets.
The public needs a bill that will guarantee to deliver quality healthcare to all Americans while lowering their insurance premiums. I realize that this is an incredibly difficult task to accomplish. There is just too many different variables working within the markets to be able to take them all into consideration and form a workable healthcare reform bill around them all. Each passing piece of healthcare legislation signals that we are inevitably heading towards a single payer option. Maybe that is not such a bad idea.