The American Healthcare System: The Devil is in the Details

The debate on US Healthcare has found itself entering a notable predicament: each faction of the bipartisan system is using its ficiencies in an attempt to make a case against the philosophy held by the opposing party. This discord acts almost in positive feedback loop fashion, forcing Democrats and Republicans to propose radically different solutions for the shortcomings found in the of American healthcare. In 2010, Democrats leapt to the scene, proposing a fix with their now infamous Affordable Care Act (ACA), which generated six grueling years of controversy. Now the public is left wondering how the newly proposed Republican bill will affect them. Will the plan be better at providing care to the Americans who need it most? Human nature might cause people to view the complexity of the new system and naturally deem it better than its predecessor. Still, closer evaluation of the bill unveils just the opposite.

Ironically, the most controversial portion of the ACA allowed both sides to reach a sense of agreement in that the government might have overstepped its bounds. The source of this unrest was the provision legalizing a tax penalty for those falling above a certain income bracket and lacking insurance. This so called “individual mandate” caused Republicans to promise its abolishment, but did they really follow through? The short answer is yes they did- that is if their proposed plan is passed and signed by President Trump.

Now, before breaking out the champagne, it’s important to note that the Republicans have cleverly hidden a provision in their bill in section 2711, leaving people on the proverbial hook for lacking insurance. Aptly named, “Encouraging Continuous Healthcare Coverage”, this section allows insurance providers to charge individuals going without health care for 67 days within a lookback period of 12 months prior to registering for new insurance. This simply means that the Republicans have “fixed” the problem by simply shifting blame from the government to the individual. Basically, yes, you have been duped.
 
A much more relevant concern is how the new bill will provide assistance to those individuals who have low incomes and don’t receive coverage from their workplaces. Under ACA, people could receive subsidies from the government in the form of tax credits which were calculated by analyzing one’s income, age, and location. The new bill proposes that age brackets determine flat tax credits. Thus a paradox is born where younger and wealthier individuals can get a larger subsidy than the impoverished elderly. Under ACA a young person with $40k income would get a tax credit of $0-$1.4k  depending on their location, but since the replacement plan works on flat age brackets, the same young individual would get a $2k subsidy from the government regardless of location. An elder, under the same circumstances, would receive $6.0-$10k under ACA but on the replacement plan, he would only get $4k. To make matters worse although insurers can’t deny coverage for pre-existing conditions they can raise the price for the elderly by up to four times. So does the healthcare replacement take care of those who need it most? If you’re young and well off then yes. If not then you’re out of luck.
If this wasn’t disturbing enough the elderly aren’t the only ones who would suffocate under the bill.  Republicans, ever faithful to their constituents, devoted a significant portion of the bill to repealing the Medicare expansion. This means that proposed taxes, programs, and requirements to cover the mentally disabled all vanish. In essence, the Republicans have introduced a bill that hurts those who need it the most while at the same time impairing itself. Perhaps with time, the bill will get better until then; however, everyone should be careful to read between the lines.

 

View Sources ∨

“Tax Credits under the Affordable Care Act vs. the American Health Care Act: An Interactive Map.” Tax Credits under the Affordable Care Act vs. the American…. The Kaiser Family Foundation, n.d. Web

Erb, Kelly Phillips. “Fix The Tax Code Friday: Refundable Tax Credits Under The GOP Health Care Plan.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 10 Mar. 2017. Web.

Quealy, Kevin, and Margot Sanger-katz. “Who Wins and Who Loses Under Republicans’ Health Care Plan.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 08 Mar. 2017. Web.

“Read the GOP’s New Health Care Plan.” Read the GOP’s New Health Care Plan. N.p., n.d. Web.
 

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