A baby is born with a hole in his heart. An old man learns he has stage three lung cancer. A single mother is forced to choose between rent and healthcare. They are each potential victims of the Trumpcare health initiative. The House GOP has passed a bill onto the Senate that repeals the Affordable Care Act, introducing a new kind of healthcare. The American Health Care Act negatively affects majority of people who are low-income, older patients and people with pre-existing conditions. If this new healthcare initiative is approved, America’s insurance network will fail its most vulnerable citizens.
Right now under the Affordable Care Act patients with pre-existing conditions can not be denied coverage nor can they be charged more by insurance companies because of their condition. The Trump Administration wants this all to change with the introduction of their new bill. Some aspects of the ACA will be left in place such as insurers cannot deny coverage. But the new plan reprimands patients with pre-existing conditions by allowing insurance companies to charge more based on medical history. According to an article in the New York Times “…without community rating, health plans would be free to charge those patients as much as they wanted”. What’s worse, prices for medical coverage can skyrocket for those needing more medical attention, literally pricing them out of the market. The result, New York Times states, “…might be a market that is much more affordable for people with a clean bill of health. But it would become largely inaccessible to anyone who really needs help paying for medical care”. According to the American Progress there are more than 130 million americans with pre-existing conditions. This essentially means 130 million Americans who are already suffering from high medical bills will be targeted to pay an even higher price tag.
In addition to citizens being charged more based on their medical status, there is still another financial risk. If a citizen for whatever reason cannot afford the monthly premium, they have the option to drop insurance – but that option comes with a hefty price tag. According to an article in USA today the new healthcare bill allows patients to be charged 30 percent higher premiums regardless of health status to those that didn’t have continued coverage for more than 63 days. This in itself entirely defeats the purpose. If one cannot afford healthcare coverage previously, how does one afford it now at 30 percent more? Ultimately the government may force its most vulnerable citizens into a position of choosing between paying monthly health care premiums or meeting basic needs.
The other side to this though is originally the House GOP did not approve of the proposed healthcare bill due to the lack of support for patients with pre-existing conditions. In order to push the votes forward for the proposed bill the Trump Administration added a last minute amendment. It allocates that $8 billion be put towards high risk pools for patients with pre-existing conditions over a nine-year period. With this addition, the House approved the bill. The problem with this is that high-risk pools have been known to have complications. Business Insider explains that “the old reinsurance program under the ACA provided $20 billion in funding over three years for these funds, which still struggled to keep some costs under control”. The proposed funding of $8 billion by the Trump Administration falls well below the amount needed to keep insurers in the market and keep costs down for patients.
Due to the small funding it could be a horrible idea because it could lead to high numbers of incredibly sick people with high medical costs in the pool, sick people going without insurance or insurer losses. According to the Congressional Budget Office initial estimated savings is forecasted at $337 billion over the 2017-2026 period. Although this is good, it is offset by the increase in the number of uninsured people which is estimated to rise 52 million by 2026. Under the current law, uninsured citizens is estimated to reach only 28 million in that same time period. Obviously, the American Health Care Act is neither well thought out nor designed for the bulk of America’s citizens.
The American Health Care Act rewards the healthy and punishes the sick which is detrimental to its most vulnerable citizens. A healthy nation is paramount if we want our country to not only survive but to thrive. The only way to achieve that is through a cooperative effort that provides health care designed to provide equal coverage for all. That means going back to the drawing board and crafting a system that meets the needs of all citizens, regardless of age, income or health status. It must incorporate affordable options that serve a broad range of needs across socio and economic backgrounds. It must preserve the health of the young, aid in addressing the progression of disease and treat those in need in a timely manner, with dignity and compassion for all.