Even if Republicans delay rollback until 2020, after the next presidential election, I will still be without health insurance in medical school. Without any income to afford a new plan. And without the law’s subsidies to help me.
Few policies of the Obama administration have been as controversial as the A.C.A., or Obamacare. It remodeled American health care and, like any remodeling, was imperfect. But despite its upgrades, Republicans have disparaged it nonstop.
Nobody likes Obamacare! Insurance premiums are skyrocketing! More people are uninsured than ever! It’s a “failed disaster”! It will implode under its own weight!
The hysteria is smoke and mirrors.
Far from a “failure,” President Obama’s law expanded health insurance coverage to 20 million people. More Americans have insurance than ever. The uninsured rate is down almost everywhere in America, the lowest as long as we’ve tracked it.
The law is wide-reaching. It prevents insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, allows young adults to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26 (that’s me), provides subsidies for low- and middle-income families to afford insurance, and allows states to expand Medicaid.
It’s true that, for 2017, insurance premiums on the A.C.A. exchanges will go up, including in Michigan. And it’s true that those markets will have fewer options. This is a significant structural challenge for American health insurance.
But premiums aren’t “skyrocketing.” There is no fire ravaging American health care. Just Republicans holding a match to the smoke detectors.
Rate hikes will impact only 3 percent of Americans. If your insurance comes from an employer, Medicare, or Medicaid (as for 8 in 10 Americans), you don’t even use the exchanges. And of those that do, most receive subsidies to help pay their premiums.
Frankly, the hysteria defies common sense — and most people’s best interests.
When you ask people about Obamacare, half support it. As you might imagine, it’s split along party lines. Eighty-two percent of Democrats like it, versus 8 percent of Republicans, largely because Republican politicians have campaigned against it.
But when you ask about the details of the law, suddenly people like it. The expansion of Medicaid, subsidies, no denial for pre-existing conditions, keeping young adults on their parents’ plans — all receive support from 7 or 8 in 10 Americans. Yes, most Republicans, too. The hysteria is entirely politics.
The A.C.A. revolutionized health care. It does need work, with its backward incentive structures, lack of a public Medicare option, and host of other issues. But right now, Republicans are poised repeal it without any replacement ready. This would destabilize health insurance markets and eliminate all the law’s benefits.
And revoke the insurance of 20 million Americans.
And threaten public health.
And increase the burden of unpaid care on hospitals by an estimated $88 billion.
And kill people (or passively let them die).
And cost an estimated 2.6 million jobs.
Oh, and revoke my health insurance in about 8 months, depending on rollback.
When we drop the politics, and drop the statistics, here’s what’s left: insurance for more people. Better access to care. That’s not hard to appreciate.
I have 8 months to draft a backup plan. Where should I start? I am a chemistry major. Maybe I can Walter White my way through this one…
Addendum: July 31, 2017
This post misstated the age that children could stay on their parents’ plans before the A.C.A. That age was 19, or 22 for full-time students, not 21. (And plans could extend it.) So good news! I have some extra time to learn to make meth.
Er, I mean, to become a salaried chemistry teacher with health benefits.