Unfortunately, when Republicans had the chance to try to replace Obamacare, they were unable to do so.
Their plan, the AHCA, was basically Obamacare-lite and it could not pass the senate, anyway.
But this does not change the fact that Obamacare is in major peril at the moment, and the reasons why are numerous, beginning with the fact that the bill was 1900 pages long and virtually nobody who voted for it actually read it.
As Nancy Pelosi famously said as the debate over Obamacare was raging on in Washington, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”
The idea was to put something in place and then fix it along the way.
That never happened.
Most people who now have coverage under Obamacare will tell you the same thing….”I have big deductibles, less choice of doctor and hospitals and my premium costs have exploded.”
The only people happy with the current state of Obamacare are the roughly 90% of the insureds under the system who are either getting large federal subsidies or are now eligible for Medicaid.
For those who pay the full amount, they make just enough to not get a subsidy but too little to afford the skyrocketing premiums.
Family coverage in a state like NY costs $1,294 per month (after taxes) with a $12,700 family deductible. Only annual physicals and certain well care is covered until the family reaches that deductible. No prescription drug coverage until that deductible is met.
That is why people who are paying for this coverage are calling it the Unaffordable Care Act.
Let’s look at what the Act was intended to do:
Lower costs, increase choice, and provide improved healthcare for all Americans.
None of that became a reality.
Don’t forget the most pronounced promise of all……”If you like your plan you can keep your plan.”
The dishonesty of that statement ended up being so egregious that it was Politifact’s “Lie of the Year” in 2013.
All of that said, unfortunately, it does not look like Republicans have the numbers or the political will at the moment to actually scrap Obamacare.
But the reality is, Obamacare is self-destructing, and sooner or later, something is going to have to be done about it.
In the meantime, however, there are improvements that can be made around the edges and thankfully the Trump Administration is currently working to implement some of those changes.
For example, the return of short-term, limited duration plans is a step in the right direction.
From the official press release:
Americans will once again be able to buy what is known as short-term, limited-duration insurance for up to a year, assuming their state allows it. These plans are free from most Obamacare regulations, allowing them to cost between 50 and 80 percent less.
Insurers will also be able to sell renewable plans, allowing consumers to stay on their affordable coverage for up to 36 months. Consumers can also buy separate renewability protection, which will allow them to lock in low rates in their renewable plans even if they get sick.
Unsurprisingly, experts believe there will be healthy demand for these affordable options. Up to 2 million Americans, and possibly more, are expected to enroll within the next few years.
Such plans were offered for terms of up to 12 months for decades until, in an effort to push Americans into Obamacare, the previous administration restricted the plans to 90 days and prohibited insurers from renewing them beyond that time period. This eliminated them as an option except for the shortest transitions between other sources of coverage.
But these short-term plans can be a good option for many Americans priced out of Obamacare’s regulations — especially small-business owners, independent contractors in today’s “gig economy” and younger Americans transitioning between school and employment.
This is a move that will not solve the Obamacare problem in and of itself, but will certainly be a short-term help to millions who do not have traditional fulltime jobs and thus do not have employer sponsored health coverage.
It is only a temporary patchwork measure but at least it will help.
But the larger issue — the unaffordability of Obamacre — is not going away.
It will need to be re-addressed at some point, perhaps sooner than some expect.
However, in the meantime, I am glad we finally have an administration attempting to be proactive about doing everything it can to mitigate the damage.
It’s about time.