Republicans complained it cost too much. Libertarians complained it penalized them for exercising free will. And conservative officials swore they would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, aided by Donald Trump, who claimed Obamacare was more expensive “than your mortgage.”
That’s exactly what Trump supporters wanted to hear, too, due to their opinions that Obamacare was just too expensive.
But the bill to replace Obamacare that Republican legislators just introduced on March 6 actually increases the costs of health insurance. By a lot. Older adults who are not yet eligible for Medicare would suffer much more, and so would low-income families.
It also reinstates restrictions that were protecting millions with pre-existing conditions. And if you can’t afford that new insurance? The penalties for going without are increasing quite a bit, too.
In cost analysis by Vox:
“We estimate that the bill would increase costs for the average enrollee by $1,542, for the year, if the bill were in effect today. In 2020, the bill would increase costs for the average enrollee by $2,409. […]
For families, the Republican bill would increase costs by $2,243 if the bill were in effect today. For families with a head of household age 55 to 64, the bill would increase costs by $7,604. For families with income below 250 percent of poverty, the bill would increase costs by $6,228. These cost increases would explode by 2020.”
So the very same people for whom the Affordable Care Act was created could suffer the most increases, it seems.
And remember the individual mandate penalty for those who could afford insurance but didn’t get any? That $695 per adult who declined to get coverage? Well, their penalties are going up, too, and because of terms the Republican Party dropped in their new bill.
Under the GOP’s “American Health Care Act,” if you went without insurance, then when you sign up for coverage, your insurance company can charge you a 30-percent fine, which actually makes those insurance costs shoot up much more.
There are many more serious limitations on this proposed plan, too. Insurance companies will again be able to deny service for pre-existing conditions – not by specifically excluding them, but by charging separate rates for such conditions, which will have higher premiums, higher deductibles, and higher co-payments.
It also offers what The Los Angeles Times calls a “secret payoff” to insurance company CEOs. Says columnist Michael Hiltzig:
“The bill encourages health insurance companies to pay their top executives more.”
A previous maximum in tax-deductible executive pay will be removed, allowing those companies to claim higher tax deductions for higher pay. And that will cost taxpayers $70 million a year, Hiltzing reports.
The GOP’s “American Health Care Act” also includes many other Republican-themed restrictions, such as:
- It defunds Planned Parenthood.
- It eliminates private insurance coverage for abortion.
- It eliminates penalties on companies that don’t insure employees.
- It ends Medicaid Expansion.
- It provides huge tax breaks – $346 billion over 10 years – to the wealthy.
Overall, this GOP plan makes insurance more expensive, and especially for those who have immediate medical needs. It makes it harder to get insurance later. It takes away rules and benefits that protect patients. And, as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said:
“Trumpcare doesn’t replace the Affordable Care Act; it forces millions of Americans to pay more for less care.”
And it can only result in more sick people with less access to healthcare, which are the exact same circumstances that Obamacare was correcting.
The proposal doesn’t have full support from all Republicans in Congress, however. Three GOP senators openly oppose the plan, and four object to its elimination of Medicaid Expansion.
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