Written by Andrew Crane
ACA vs. AHCA
As Republicans celebrate passing the ‘American Health Care Act’ Bill through the House, millions of Americans are in fear of the consequences if that bill becomes law.
The AHCA loosens many of the restrictions for insurance providers. States are to apply for waivers, to avoid following ACA community-rating provision, and enabling insurance providers to charge higher premiums to patients with PRE-existing conditions or who are sick. Premiums for patients with those PRE-existing conditions under the AHCA are expected to be up to five times higher than current premiums under the ACA.
The main differences between the Affordable Care Act and the American Health Care Act are the subsidies paid and the requirement of Insurance. Under the ACA, all US citizens are required to have health insurance and must pay a penalty if individuals do not have a policy. However, the ACA provides sizable subsidies to lower-income citizens in order reduce premiums and deductibles. The AHCA does not require all US citizens to have insurance, though if an individual goes a year without health insurance and then enrolls in a policy, the individual would still have to pay a penalty. This new bill also provides a fixed tax credit structure, based on age and regardless of income, across all US citizens. This tax credit structure would dramatically shift subsidies away from lower-income citizens and spread them out across all citizens.
The idea behind the new health care bill is to reduce the cost of health insurance premiums for healthy and higher-income American citizens. Under Obamacare, healthier and higher-income individuals have had to pay higher premiums and deductibles than their insurable need in order to help subsidize the cost of quality health insurance for sick and lower income citizens. The cost of insurance will decrease under the ACHA because the new bill would allow insurance providers to avoid most of the consumer protections provided under the Affordable Care Act. Insurance providers will be able to reduce premiums for most citizens by charging individuals with pre-existing conditions and chronic illnesses exponentially higher premiums.
The controversy about the new health care bill is mainly over the reduction of critical consumer protections. One of the most controversial aspect of the ACHA is that the bill will defund Planned Parenthood, which is the largest network of prevention and primary care for women. The new bill would allow insurance providers to not include coverage for basic maternity and newborn care, as well as treatments (such as counseling) for sexual assault and domestic violence victims. In 2020, the AHCA plans to stop Medicaid enrollment and cut spending to the program in the preceding years. The cut in Medicaid spending would be what mainly funds the tax credits under the new policy. The new bill would also allow insurance providers to not cover treatments for pre-existing conditions. So patients with pre-existing condition or chronic illnesses will wind up paying enormous premiums for their health insurance and have their insurance providers not cover essential treatments for their illnesses.
If the new bill passes the Senate, the people most affected would be lower-income citizens and women. The majority of Medicaid recipients are women and the ACHA plans to defund Medicaid. For individuals making less than $30,000 a year, premiums would could potentially increase by over $8,000 depending on the status of their health. On top of that, treatments such as primary care mammograms and cervical cancer screenings for women could be denied by insurance providers. The only people who gain from this bill would be those who are healthy and have higher incomes.
As the bill is debated in the Senate, we should ask ourselves one question: should our health care policies be designed to protect those who can afford insurance or those who need insurance? I think anyone with a heart knows the answer to that question.
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