A few days ago, I received an email from the White House inviting me to share my “Obamacare disaster” story. So, I did.
I explained how Obamacare has affected my husband’s pay. He’s in the medical field and, along with his colleagues, was furious when the bill outlined how certain medical professionals should be paid for their work, as if lawmakers know anything about how medical professionals should be billed.
Turns out, no one really feels that bad for those who actually work in the healthcare industry, even though the healthcare law affects everyone, practitioners and patients alike. This debate is about the cost to patients. You and me.
All this healthcare business can be incredibly wonky and confusing (I know I’m not the only one), so let me fill you in real quick…
What’s the Deal with the Current Healthcare Law?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the law we all know as Obamacare, has left a long list of Americans reeling.
Since it’s inception in 2010 (and in 2014 when other larger parts of the law kicked in), we’ve all seen numerous stories from Americans over their healthcare costs shooting through the roof and others being told they had to choose a new, more expensive plan because their old one was being eliminated. I’m certain you’ve all heard similar stories.
But there are also stories of Obamacare helping people. Millions of Americans who were going without insurance were able to get it (some who never had insurance before in their life), thanks to the law. Certain meds are now free (birth control, anyone?). And preexisting conditions are now being covered and I don’t know anyone who can argue against that.
However, wasn’t this debate originally started because healthcare costs were spiraling out of control? While providing some good things, Obamacare didn’t hit at the heart of the issue: lowering health care costs! Yes, getting more people insured is important, but if they can’t afford the care that their insurance provides them, then what good is it?! Cost was the entire point of why this debate took place in the first place, and yet it raised the cost for so many Americans.
Even some of the biggest Obamacare fans agree the law needs work.
Another New Healthcare Bill?
And now to add more crazy to the mix — there’s another health care bill on the table. The GOP are behind this one, (as part of their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare) and named it the American Health Care Act.
This one is set to dismantle a lot of the Obamacare taxes that affect the average American, and experts expect it to likely drop premiums too. But there’s also a whole new set of concerns with this one, even with some Republicans: i.e. it doesn’t cover enough Americans, meddles too much in Medicaid, doesn’t involve the federal government enough, involves it too much... on and on.
Want to check out the new bill for yourself? You can find it here and make your own assumptions. Which is probably a really good idea.
Why It’s So Hard to Get Right
So why can no one seem to get this healthcare thing right? Shouldn’t there be a much easier solution that we can all agree on?!
The bottom line is this: With a bill this massive, it is simply not possible to please everyone. Parts of the bill, just like Obamacare, will be a life saver in some Americans’ lives; other parts will be disastrous. It is just not possible to have legislation this size do all things for all people. That is why a healthcare bill will never be perfect.
Healthcare is not one size fits all.
That is why lawmakers will never get it right. What might be the best solution for someone like me (who rarely gets sick) and save me money, might be the totally wrong solution for my neighbor (who has a terminal illness) and raise her costs.
That is the sad reality.
There is one thing though our politicians can get right with this healthcare bill: to have an open debate about it. A bill this size should not be tweaked behind closed doors. It should be openly debated on the House and Senate floors so Americans can hear how their own health care will take shape. How else can we know how to weigh in on it?
Additionally, since Obamacare is already in place, our lawmakers should consider tackling the parts of the law that aren’t working, one by one. Not with another massive bill.
Otherwise, I have a feeling the White House will be, once again, hearing a lot more disaster stories.
Comparing the Current Healthcare Law with the New Bill
Interested in what the current law does and what the new law will do? Here are a few highlights.
- COVERAGE: Currently covers 11 million Americans (in the 31 states that implemented the law) with expanded Medicaid and another 12 million who buy insurance through government sponsored markets
- COST: $1.4 trillion from 2017-2026
- Extends dependent coverage up to age 26
- Has brought the national uninsured rate below 9 percent, a historic low
- Requires coverage of preventive services and immunizations
- Ends preexisting conditions exclusions
- Establish an internet portal to assist Americans in identifying coverage options
- Facilitate administrative simplification to lower health system costs
- Provides cost-sharing subsidies for low-to-moderate income people who buy a standard silver plan in the government markets
THE NEW BILL (as currently written)
- COVERAGE: Would remove health coverage for an estimated 24 million Americans by 2026 (because those people would choose not to have a plan, according to the CBO)
- COST: Reduces federal deficits by $337 billion over the 2017-2026 period
- Extends dependent coverage up to age 26
- Dismantle Obamacare Taxes, including taxes on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, health-insurance premiums, and medical devices
- Eliminate the individual and employer mandate penalties
- Prohibits health insurers from denying coverage
- Establish a Patient and State Stability Fund to help low income Americans afford health care
- Provide a monthly tax credit for low and middle income individuals and families who do
CNN also recently aired an interesting “Town Hall” debate featuring Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price. They drilled him with all sorts of tough questions about the new bill that you definitely want to check out. You can watch it here.
What to tell your kids about this issue?
All those visits to the doctor’s office aren’t free. In fact, they cost a lot of money and every year they get more and more expensive. Our country’s lawmakers introduced some bills to help with that. The last bill though, brought in a lot of good ideas, but still needs some work. So, another bill was just introduced to try to fix it. It’s still being worked out, but everyone hopes it will help make our visits to the doctor much more affordable and help more people afford to get help when they’re sick.
Former news reporter and Capitol Hill press guru, wife, mom, and pastry addict.