American Health Care Act: Is the New AHCA Better Than Obamacare?

In a previous post, titled Latest Health News and Headlines for You and Your Family, we mentioned a list of five areas for concern that critics of the new American Health Care Act (AHCA) have detailed. These were: no fix to rising drug prices, no assurance on quality of health care, inconsistent pricing of procedures across markets, no way to reduce medical errors (see above), ongoing questions about how many people will be able to afford coverage.

Setting the politics of it all aside, which is admittedly hard to do in our current emotionally charged climate, we would like to try to offer a more objective analysis of the AHCA.

Cost of the new American Health Care Act

According to an in-depth analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which is about as non-partisan as things get in Washington DC (though many remain skeptical even of the CBO), “CBO and JCT [Joint Committee on Taxation] estimate that enacting the American Health Care Act would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the coming decade and increase the number of people who are uninsured by 24 million in 2026 relative to current law.”

Most of these savings would be a result of reductions for Medicaid and the elimination of the subsidies for nongroup health insurance that were a major feature of Obamacare.

How the AHCA will affect Health Insurance Coverage

It’s probably wise to include a direct quote form the CBO report here, to eliminate the potential for confusion: “CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law.”

The report goes on to speculate that most of these folks would forego buying health insurance because the Obamacare-induced penalty for not doing so would no longer force them to. Further, as the states make changes to Medicaid coverage under the new law, the CBO predicts even more people would wind up without health insurance coverage; perhaps as many as 52 million.

A cautionary note: while some of these numbers are alarming, there is no way for the CBO, or any government office for that matter, to predict what will happen in the health insurance marketplace once Obamacare restrictions are relaxed. In fact, it may be that, with increased competition leading to reduced premiums, we will see more people purchasing health insurance.

In the end, only time will tell and for now, we must rely on such best-guess speculation. Let’s hope the CBO is wrong. perhaps, one of these days, congress will do something about health care in the US, rather than hiding behind health insurance regulation.

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