The rate of people struggling to pay medical bills has significantly dropped in the last years according to the National Health Interview Survey. Nearly 13 million non-elderly adults who were uninsured have obtained a health insurance by the end of 2015.

Taking a look at the advances made in healthcare during Obama’s administration it won’t be so easy for the upcoming Trump’s administration to replace the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Despite the critics, paying medical expenses have become easier for millions in America thanks to the ACA.

Patients are commonly double charged or billed for services they didn’t receive. Image Credit: IStock Photo

The nation’s healthcare spending grew at the fastest rate in eight years 

Due to President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and coverage expansion, the United States saw a grow in the spending made in healthcare during 2015 like it has never happened in the last eight years.  The 5.8% growth experienced in 2015 boosted the total health care costs to $3.2 trillion with an average of $9,900 per person. Clearly, most of it is spent in the sickest people’s treatment.

According to the reports made by the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday, the health expenses grew 2% faster than the economy last year. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 is definitely one of the largest factors to explain this growth. Though many think this is a big problem, and a true disappointment for the outgoing administration, for others it has translated into a relief, due to the fact that medical bills are more affordable.

Certainly, America has long struggled to have a balance between health care costs, access, and quality. Obama has made incredible advances on the subject, especially regarding access. 91% of U.S residents have a medical insurance now. But the costs is a re-emerging problem, maybe because people who have a medical insurance use more medical attention than the uninsured ones, who tend to postpone medical appointments.

Replacing Obama’s ACA?

A lot of people have wondered what is going to happen with Obamacare. The truth is that the now President-elected Donald Trump didn’t say much about health during his campaign, besides criticizing Obama’s ways and attempts to widen access to health services to Americans. But no new ideas or arguments were put on the table.

Replacing the Affordable Care Act is not that easy since it has been proven that the ACA has acted as an economic stimulus lowering down general health care expenses. The act was made to provide all Americans with an affordable health care coverage, assuring essential health benefits. It has also reduced the discriminations made by insurers and it has significantly reduced the number of Americans without health insurance. The current 10.5% of uninsured people is historically low.

Therefore repealing the ACA could carry political risks, added to the fact that though the Congressional Republicans have continuously refused the ACA, they haven’t proposed a decent option to replace it.

By the time, the only thing that Trumps has made on the subject is naming House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price as the secretary of Health and Human Services. The question is whether Price’s plan could weaken the coverage achieved during Obama’s administration.

What do the Republicans criticized about the ACA?

Certainly, they criticize the high costs ACA produces to the government, as the stats show there has been a rise in the governmental expenses on health care of 5.8% in 2015. As well, ACA critics center on its unpopular provisions, it requires people to have a health insurance of pay a penalty. They criticize the subsidies but in fact, a lot of healthy people wouldn’t have a coverage without a subsidy, leaving in the insured pool only the sick or costlier ones to cover. Healthy insured people makes coverage more affordable.

Price’s plan would likely eliminate the protections and instead of the ACA’s income-based subsidies, Price would set age-based subsidies. As well, his Plan would provide less protection to people with preexisting conditions. Under the ACA, it was prevented the denial of coverage from insurers to people with pre-existing conditions. As well, the ACA prevented insurers from imposing annual limits on benefits as well, it set a limit to the deductibles that insurers can impose.

As well, Price’s proposal includes expanding the “high-risk pools,” to help people to afford the higher premiums they might need. The thing is that these sick pools, where sick people with even sicker people are put together, tend to charge extremely and almost unaffordable high premiums.

Moreover, the employer-based coverage could be affected by Price’s plan, since it gives an incentive for employees to drop coverage – something that is not allowed under the ACA – on the assumption that these people could pay using the individual tax credits to buy coverage on their own.

Therefore, replacing Obama’s efforts on healthcare is easier said than done. The ACA isn’t perfect and it can certainly be improved. However, the objective for the Republicans should not be just to erase everything that has been made under the Obama’s administration but to think of new ways to upgrade the already established policies for the general welfare.

Source: US News