WASHINGTON, DC — Limited access to Obamacare health insurance plans is creating an urgent, public demand for a replacement. Insurers are exiting the market throughout the nation at an alarming rate for a variety of reasons. Their motives vary, but for the most part they are concerned about the imminent collapse of the Affordable Care Act.
“As a result, individuals and families seeking coverage have only one or two insurance options and in some cases they have none. And, where coverage is available premiums and deductibles make Affordable Care Act insurance downright unaffordable. A young woman who recently lost her job and her insurance coverage in New York City, for example, went to the Obamacare exchange and found that a policy would cost her at least $900 a month and that the plan had an outrageous $14,000 deductible,” according to Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens.
The good news, says Weber, is that House Speaker Paul Ryan says he is confident that the American Health Care Act, which the House passed last week, will get speedy attention in the Senate. In a TV interview earlier this week, Ryan said: “The legislation should not take that long. Hopefully it takes a month or two to get it through the Senate. Hopefully it takes a month or two because we need to give people the ability to plan. Insurers are pulling out very, very quickly, and we need to show the insurers that there is a better system coming.”
Ryan’s remarks seem to contradict hearsay that the Senate is not so enthusiastic as he is regarding healthcare reform. But, Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri says that while the Senate will write its own bill, the House legislation will get a fair shake. It doesn’t signal opposition; it’s just the way things are done in Congress, he says. “The Senate is going to be looking at this to see what we can do to take the House work, look at what the House did, look at what we can do to improve that in our view and then see if that’s a bill that in all likelihood you have to go back to the House and say ‘here’s what you think, here’s what we think’.”
AMAC’s Weber says he is optimistic. “There is growing confidence that the American Health Care Act will become law this year. The table for the Senate to allow changes that will revolutionize health care in the days ahead. For example, Health Savings Accounts, if expanded properly, will put patients back in charge of their health care, providing them with the ability to shop for the lowest cost treatment from doctors, hospitals and insurance policies.”
He explained that by including Direct Primary Care physicians and a savings account, combined with a high deductible insurance policy inside an HSA, competition will drive down prices.
But there’s more, according to Weber. If the Senate sees fit to incorporate a version of “Pro bono” health care it would give doctors and nurse practitioners tax deductions and powerful incentive for treating the poor for free. “AMAC conducted a survey and found that some 350,000 doctors and nurse practitioners would be willing to participate in such a Pro Bono Care program. If each one took 20 patients, that’s 7 million needy people who would be covered. This would more than makeup for cuts in Medicaid that could happen in some states.”
As for the controversial provision regarding pre-existing conditions in the new American Health Care Act, Ryan says that “under this bill, no matter what, you cannot be denied coverage if you have a preexisting condition. And under this bill, you can’t charge people more if they keep continuous coverage. The key of having a continuous-coverage provision is to make sure that people stay covered. It’s kind of like waiting until your house is on fire to then buy your homeowner’s insurance. You want to make sure that people stay covered to keep the cost down.”