Obamacare premiums will rise in 2017. Here’s what the next potential presidents want to do about it.
On Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that premiums for insurance plans bought through the healthcare.gov marketplace (i.e. Obamacare) will rise by an average of 22 percent in 2017. This number varies by state and region, with staggering increases of roughly 145 percent in Phoenix, Arizona and more modest increases in cities like Indianapolis, according to Townhall.com. ACAsignups.net estimates the increase will be roughly 25.6 percent. The overall takeaway is that premiums, or the amount paid for health care, will rise by a significant amount, and our next potential presidents have different plans to address healthcare costs.
It is worth noting that while the increases are pretty terrifying on the surface, federal subsidies for healthcare will rise too. This means that few Americans will actually have to pay the full cost of premiums after the rate increases to get insurance coverage. But that being said, for Americans with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough for subsidies to be helpful, the increased rates they are required to pay under the Affordable Care Act will be burdensome.
While Obamacare has been successful in some ways — contributing to a higher standard of living, helping America’s most vulnerable demographics, and reducing poverty and debt — it certainly has its shortcomings, as was emphasized throughout both the Democratic and Republican primaries and now in the general election. Roughly 30 million Americans remain uninsured and for some, it’s about to become substantially less affordable.
Obamacare may rank among President Obama’s most notable legacies, but as he prepares to pass the torch to either Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or Republican nominee Donald Trump, it’s time for voters to consider how who they vote for could affect the state of healthcare.
As Trump has iterated too many times to count, he intends to dismantle Obamacare as a whole and callously leave millions of Americans’ ability to access their right to basic medical care to the free market, because, sure, that’s totally going to fix soaring prices for critically important drugs. Put simply, his plan is basically that he doesn’t have one.
Meanwhile, Clinton, who has adamantly praised Obamacare, has expressed her intent to expand Medicare and Medicaid coverage to lower the number of people who have to purchase healthcare on the Obamacare marketplace. However, this will hardly address the issue at hand, which is increasing premium rates. Clinton will attempt to further regulate premium rates, but Jamie Peck at Death and Taxes has noted how this could serve to worsen another existing problem with Obamacare, which is insurers pulling out of exchanges.
At the end of July, the Clinton campaign released a plan to create a Bernie Sanders-esque “public option” for healthcare, or a healthcare plan offered by the federal government which will more or less compete with private insurance providers. But it is worth noting the substantial weight of the private healthcare industry in the GDP, and the power of this industry’s lobbyists over congressmen.
Despite the vaguely depressing fact that Sanders is no longer a contender for the presidency, it’s worth noting how his famous plan for universal or “single payer” healthcare would have tackled this situation, especially since polling by Gallup even prior to this latest Obamacare hiccup found 58 percent of Americans (73 percent of Democrats, and even 41 percent of Republicans) favored a single payer plan.
Everyone would be covered automatically at birth under a national health service. As all items purchased en masse are, health services administered by a national plan would be more affordable and prices more easily negotiated. Premiums and out-of-pocket costs for healthcare would instead be replaced by progressive income and wealth taxes to fund the national plan, and 95 percent of Americans would pay less for healthcare than they presently do under Obamacare.
This plan would perhaps work the best to keep costs low and ensure the accessibility of healthcare, but as previously mentioned, the private healthcare industry is powerful, especially in terms of its grip on Congress, which is why who you’re voting into Congress is just as important as who you’re voting into the Oval Office if you’d like to someday see single-payer healthcare.
Faced with an obstructionist Republican Senate and the relentlessly polarized political climate surrounding healthcare, Obama took the fight for expanded healthcare further than any president so far. His healthcare legacy is a huge feat that, unfortunately, wasn’t perfect.