What the New GOP Tax Bill Means for Healthcare

The Senate Republicans have recently tacked on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to the GOP tax bill.

Taking such a measure is, in part, an effort to free up money in the budget to allow tax cuts. However, the American people should be worried about how the repeal of the mandate will affect premium rates.

As quoted from the New York Times, “The budget office estimates that eliminating the mandate would drive up premiums an average of 10 percent every year beyond their normal rate of increase (Sanger-Katz Nov. 17 2017).” As the logic goes, repealing the mandate would allow millions of people to opt out of coverage (something that is already starting to happen), which would then leave their insurance and medical care costs to footed by people who pay for health insurance. This would manifest in higher insurance premium costs.  High premium costs are already cited as the primary reason people do not have coverage, and thus the cycle perpetuates.

It is estimated that the individual mandate has improved the outlook of the health insurance premiums under Obamacare. Once the Affordable care act was passed in 2010, “average family premiums rose 20% from 2011 to 2016. That rate of increase is actually much lower than the previous five years (up 31% from 2006 to 2011) and the five years before that (up 63% from 2001 to 2006) (Money.com, Tuttle Oct. 4 2016).”

Although premiums seem to have increased under Obamacare, health insurance premiums have clearly slowed in proportion to what they had been growing at before ObamaCare was enacted. Overall, it looks as though the individual mandate and the Affordable Care Act were a necessary provision in the healthcare industry, and repealing the individual mandate just might very well setback all that progress.

Press Release: High Costs Main Factor for the Decreasing Health Insurance Coverage
As cited from CMS.gov, over 2 million people have dropped their health insurance plans originally signed up for during Open Enrollment.

High costs are cited as the primary factor as to why so many people have dropped out of Obamacare.However, about 10 million people are still finding success in the Exchanges.

From November 1st 2016 to January 31st 2017, the Affordable Care Act Marketplace is open for people to enroll in health insurance plans. Individuals can essentially shop around until they find a plan that meets their needs. If they do not choose a plan, they must pay a fine to the government for opting out of health insurance coverage.

During the last Open Enrollment period, 12.2 million individuals selected a plan, but only 10.3 million followed through with paying the first month’s premium. About 1.9 million people dropped their plans before the first payment due to high costs. By the end of the year, 3.1 million people had cancelled the plans they had originally selected. However, although, “Approximately 46 percent of consumers who canceled their coverage prior to paying first month’s premium cited cost as the reason for cancellation… [and] 49 percent of consumers who terminated their plans after paying for at least one month’s premium said they gained other coverage elsewhere (The Health Insurance Exchanges Trends Report 3).”

Clearly, the government and the health insurance providers need to find a solution to the high premium costs. Without everyone paying into health insurance, the premiums will just continue to rise. However, the Exchanges is great news for healthcare because for 82% of the people who enrolled last year, health insurance is an accessible reality.

The Opioid Crisis

President Trump has declared the Opioid Crisis a National Public Health Emergency.

The number of deaths from opioid overdose is dramatically on the rise. Many unsafe and illegal opioids have made their way into the United States as cheap alternatives to highly addictive prescription pain opioids.Once marketed as relatively safe, the danger of prescription pain pills is coming into the national spotlight.

As of 2012, 2.1 million Americans were addicted to opioids or had abused these drugs. And the amount of deaths related to opioids continues to grow.

Deaths related to overdosing on drugs have been on the rise with opioid related overdoses leading the way. “In 2015, an estimated 17,536 overdose deaths were attributed to prescription opioids (other than non-methadone synthetics).” Additionally, deaths due to heroin overdose is happening at an exponential rate compared to prior years. Heroin can be found much cheaper and easier on the streets, as opposed to prescription pills, so increasingly more people are turning to heroin as an alternative. There is so much danger in these highly addictive and deadly drugs. CMS.gov has provided an infographic and is recruiting everyone to to help Fight the Opioid Crisis.

To read more about the initiative click here.