The better alternative

Those who are hoping the Texas judge’s ruling against the Affordable Care Act –Obamacare — will be upheld and the act will disappear, will have all this to look forward to:

One: Insurance companies will once again be able to deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. This means if you have asthma, high blood pressure, chronic back pain, or acne, insurance companies can refuse to sell you a policy. Even if you own a policy they can refuse to pay for your medical expenses, if they believe you had a condition that you failed to tell them about at the time you originally bought it.

Two: Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance companies are required to use at least 85% of the money they receive in premiums to cover their policy-holders’ medical expenses. Overhead, including profits, is limited to 15% of their revenue. Without ACA they will be able to go back to their old system, where they kept 25 to 30% of revenue as “administrative costs.” Insurance company CEO’s are already among the highest paid executives in the U.S., and this way their multi-million dollar salaries can go even higher. We will all be required to pay for this.

Three: The extra $4 billion a year in federal funding that pays for Medicaid expansion will be withdrawn. Hospital systems like UPMC Susquehanna will have to care for more patients who can’t pay their bills, and no longer have Medicaid to cover them. As any hospital administrator can tell you, this will force them to make cutbacks in staff and services, and charge paying patients more to cover the difference.

Four: Federally sponsored state health insurance exchanges will close down. In 2017, 364,000 Pennsylvanians were enrolled in our state’s health insurance exchange. 302,000 of these people received tax credits, averaging $424 per month, and 206,000 got reduced premiums because of their income levels. Without ACA, all of this will disappear.

The provision of ACA people most objected to, the mandate that required individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty, was repealed in the tax bill passed by Congress in 2017. That part of Obamacare went away years ago.

The Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, and many who need good insurance aren’t covered, or are covered inadequately. The majority now favor universal health care, or Medicare for all. Instead of wasting time and money trying to repeal ACA, Congress should work to give Americans the health care system the majority want.

Arno Vosk MD


Submitted by Virtual Newsroom