Obamacare to Trumpcare: The Good, the Bad, and the Future

Throughout this election season, conversations have swirled around how the next president will change healthcare in the United States. What happens to the Affordable Care Act with a new leader in the White House? As President-elect Donald Trump takes office, let’s take a look at some of the wins, losses, and future predictions of Obamacare.

The Good: Coverage for More People

The overarching purpose of Obamacare is to offer citizens access to affordable insurance, expanding across individuals’ pre-existing health conditions and socio-economic status. Since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, 20 million people have become insured who didn’t previously have health insurance. Earlier this year, Gallup reported that the uninsured rate among U.S. adults has fallen from 17.1% in 2013 to 11% in 2016. The movement has also brought more awareness to insurance as a discussion, educating the public on the value of benefits and the intricacies of our healthcare system.

Perhaps the most remarkable outcome of the ACA is that it even passed through Congress—becoming a landmark of President Obama’s time in office. While surrounded by controversy, Obamacare represents one of the largest healthcare reform movements since the inception of Medicare and Medicaid.

The Bad: Rising Costs and Fewer Choices

Anyone following its progression knows that Obamacare has received heavy blame and backlash for its inability to fix a broken system. Turning health insurance into a government mandate raises premiums across the board, whether or not people use their health insurance. Year over year, average rates for mid-level insurance plans will rise by 25% in 2017. While tax penalties are enforced for individuals who opt out of health insurance, some are accepting those penalties with the risk of no insurance over having to pay such high premiums.

Another point of contention is the “essential health benefits” in every Marketplace health insurance plan. Any person enrolling is required to buy a list of coverage options that may not apply to their individual needs, such as maternity coverage and newborn care. These components don’t typically fit the profile of an elderly couple or a single adult male, showing some of the cracks in the new structure.

The ability to choose a health insurance company and an appropriate plan should not go overlooked. As laws require providers to offer more benefits to higher risk populations, numerous large health insurance providers have reduced or ceased all traditional plan offerings.

The Future: Change is Coming, Just Not Immediately

Both advocates and critics of Obamacare agree that its legislation is unlikely to be completely repealed or replaced, regardless of who sits in the White House. With our government’s structure, the executive branch has very little power to send swift motions through Congress—which equally prevents from egregiously “bad” change and quick movement on “good” change. Whatever Donald Trump pursues—nothing will take effect overnight.

Donald Trump has repeatedly used the words “repeal and replace,” but he has struggled to provide specific details of his overall healthcare initiative. In Trump’s acceptance speech, the President-elect gave more praise to Dr. Ben Carson than to his own running mate, Governor Mike Pence. Reports suggest Dr. Carson will be instrumental in helping Trump replace Obamacare with either a completely new structure or a heavily modified version. If Dr. Carson is involved in this process, we should all become familiar with the term, “Health Savings Account” (HSA).

While Trump has been outspoken about his qualms on Obamacare, he does support legislation that prevents insurers from declining individuals due to pre-existing conditions—one of the most well-liked features of Obamacare. He also proposes allowing people to buy health insurance across state lines and supports creating state-based, high-risk pools for individuals who need medical attention but do not have health insurance. Both of these ideas could potentially lower costs for individuals who maintain continuous health insurance coverage and encourage competition among health insurance carriers.

Okay, so here’s my prediction. Trump’s victory may be anti-climactic for any immediate changes in healthcare. With so many more Americans now insured, any president would be met with heated repercussions for yanking health insurance from 20 million people. The “repeal and replace” approach will not happen on Day 1, or Day 53 or Day 107.

Premiums for 2017 are here to stay. Our government will grow more intertwined with our healthcare system, and major medical health insurance carriers will have to be flexible in the products they develop and deliver—no matter who is president. To manage any potential impacts to their bottom line, some agencies are pivoting to Medicare.

Read our take on it and let us know if you have questions.