Health Care in America: Overhaul or Tweak?
As we head into the election year, health care continues to be one of the driving political issues. The wide array of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have so far proposed several new health care plan variations.
But is there a one-size-fits-all solution for health care in America? The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was designed as a starting point, funding numerous test programs to determine what might work in the long run. The purpose behind Obamacare was to provide affordable health care for all Americans while also trying to improve the national health care system as a whole. But as costs and premiums continue to rise, the legislation may in fact need to be altered or completely abandoned.1
That’s the question, isn’t it: Fix or scrap? Last spring, President Trump posted a series of tweets claiming, “The Republicans are developing a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) and deductibles than Obamacare. In other words, it will be far less expensive and much more usable than Obamacare. Vote will be taken right after the election when Republicans hold the Senate and win back the House. It will be truly great health care that will work for America.”2
However, even the GOP Congress admits that no plan is currently in development. Indeed, many believe there would be an immediate bipartisan effort to develop a plan should a final court decision rule the current health care legislation unconstitutional. As for the popular rule for mandatory coverage of pre-existing conditions, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that Congress would act immediately if the courts struck down that section of the law.3
Regardless of what the current lower court decides, it is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court — and any final decision would take some time before it affected consumers.4 However, it’s worth considering using that time to save money and/or look at insurance options in case you encounter higher out-of-pocket health care costs in the future. If you’d like some assistance brainstorming ways to prepare a strategy to address future health care costs, we can help.
It does seem possible that the country’s health care solution could lie somewhere between the Medicare-for-all or back-to-square-one choices with which we seem to be currently presented. For example, the high cost of prescription drugs could be addressed by removing the restriction that prevents the Medicare program from negotiating volume discounts with drug companies. Or, insurers could develop preferred pharmacy networks, which, similar to provider networks, are designed to steer patients to pharmacies where they have negotiated lower drug prices.5
To help provide more affordable health care to rural communities, presidential hopeful and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet is promoting a plan to increase resources for IT investments for nationwide broadband access. The objective is to better enable health care professionals to maintain regular communications with patients in outlying areas to remotely monitor their health conditions.6
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1 Obamacare Facts. Nov. 16, 2018. “Health Care Reform Timeline.” https://obamacarefacts.com/health-care-reform-timeline/. Accessed July 29, 2019.
2 Jeremy Diamond and Kyle Feldscher. CNN. April 2, 2019. “Trump punts on health care until after the 2020 election.” https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/02/politics/trump-health-care-2020-election/index.html. Accessed July 29, 2019.
3 Burgess Everette. Politico. July 14, 2019. “Republicans ready to dive off a cliff on Obamacare.” https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/14/republicans-obamacare-2020-1415313. Accessed July 29, 2019.
4 Julie Rovner. NPR. July 9, 2019. “The Affordable Care Act Is Back In Court: 5 Facts You Need To Know.” https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/07/09/739653482/the-affordable-care-act-is-back-in-court-5-facts-you-need-to-know. Accessed July 29, 2019.
5 Knowledge@Wharton. June 25, 2019. “How a Small Change Can Help Fix the Health Care System.” https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/preferred-pharmacy-networks-drug-costs/. Accessed July 29, 2019.
6 Healthcare IT News. July 29, 2019. “Presidential candidate sees telemedicine as key to rural health.” https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/presidential-candidate-sees-telemedicine-key-rural-health. Accessed July 29, 2019.
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