The American Health Care Act (AHCA) narrowly passed the Republican House of Representatives on Thursday. The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office has yet to analyze how this bill will impact human health and insurance costs.
But analyses by the Wall Street Journal, Kaiser Family Foundation and AARP indicate that the AHCA will reduce overall healthcare access while also raising health insurance premiums.
How the AHCA will hurt you and your loved ones
Four groups of people will pay the highest price from the passage of the AHCA, these three analyses found:
50- to 64-year-olds: The AHCA empowers insurance companies to charge people 50 to 64 years of age six times the premium charged to a millennia, according to AARP. The Kaiser Family Foundation projects that people in this age group could see their healthcare premiums soar from as low as $1,000 per year to over $40,000 a year.
Children: Twenty-one percent of our nation’s children live in poverty. That fact is shocking enough. The AHCA strips them of Medicaid funds. It also slashes funding for children needing special education assistance.
People with pre-existing conditions: The AHCA allows insurance companies to price discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions. People with cancer, for example, may see their care leap to unaffordable levels.
But you do not have to have cancer or a heart condition to quality for having a pre-existing condition. The pre-existing conditions that an insurance company can use to raise health insurance premiums include:
- Pregnancy or expectant parent (includes men)
- Sleep apnea
- Acid reflux or heart burn
- High cholesterol
- Lyme disease (so a bug bite can rob you of affordable health care)
AARP calculates that annual health insurance premiums can soar to over $27,000 annually for people with one of 50 pre-existing conditions.
Working Americans: The AHCA allows states and companies to gut the services provided through an employer insurance plan. It frees companies from having to provide insurance for prescription drugs, hospitalization and maternity care.
Who wins under the AHCA
The AHCA does lower taxes by approximately $600 billion. But most of us will not see a dime of this tax cut. Here is how the AHCA lowers taxes:
- Eliminates a 3.8 percent tax on capital gains, dividends, and interest income for families earning $250,000 or more per year.
- Eliminates a 0.90 percent wage tax on income in excess of $250,000.
- Eliminates taxes on health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers.
These tax cuts, and other provisions in the AHCA, mean gains for these groups:
- People who do not want to buy health insurance. The Obamacare mandate of requiring everyone to either buy health insurance or pay a penalty would be eliminated under the AHCA. This reduces the insurance pool size, making insurance more expensive for the rest of us. It also means that when the uninsured do need health care, they will seek free or subsidized care at the local emergency center.
- Employers seeking to reduce health care costs. By stripping out covered benefits like maternity care, the AHCA empowers companies to cut healthcare costs by cutting health benefits.
Two steps that can prevent an AHCA health and financial disaster
The AHCA will not improve America’s health. It will not reduce healthcare costs. It is a political overstep in response to the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) that promoted health but not affordability.
There is a path for achieving both universal, quality health care and affordability.
The first step is to reform the insurance system that empowers drug companies and healthcare providers with monopoly and oligopoly pricing powers. We do not buy car, home or life insurance through monopolies. Why are we buying health insurance through a system defined by rising prices, complex pricing, complex contract terms and claim denials handled by the insurance company?
Secondly, Americans must adopt a healthier lifestyle. Our lifestyles are driving healthcare costs to record levels. We are in a national weight crisis that has created an obesity and diabetes epidemic. Our lifestyles are a recipe for heart disease and cancer.
The two solutions to rising healthcare costs are both in our hands.
We must put politics aside and vote for candidates who support health insurance industry reform.
We must also take control of our own health.
Vote and act, or suffer the consequences of the American Health Care Act.
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