Photography by Chloe Richards
What the Health Care?
Written by Annemarie Cuccia
If you’ve followed the news at all over the past few months, you’ve been privy to the healthcare saga that was the summer and fall legislative session. It seemed each week there was a new bill to analyze, a new congressional dispute to sort out. Obamacare repeal didn’t just fail with John McCain’s thumbs down- it failed in town halls, in CBO reports, in the chaos of the Republican party. But if repeal failed, why are
many people still anxious over next year’s coverage?
The answer lies in the peculiar structure of our healthcare markets. Obamacare markets have certainly never been perfect. The amount of counties with one or no insurer has climber over the years, and was predicted to reach 45% in 2018, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation in June. Having only one insurer can make it harder to find a plan that fits, and also often leads to higher prices according to the Urban Institute. Counties with no insurers essentially have no options, especially when customers need subsidies.
So, in order for more people to feel they have insurance options, more companies need to offer coverage in these marketplaces. The best way to do this is for the government to encourage them, which is commonly done through subsidies provided to companies to help pay for the insurance of low income Americans. However, in the last week alone, according to Reuters, Trump said he would stop paying subsidies, would consider a legislative solution to pay the subsidies, and dismissed the same legislative plan. And this is simply a microcosm of the changing attitude he has had on paying subsidies since taking office. They have never been guaranteed, and as in any market, uncertainty has bred fear.
Instead of more companies joining the marketplaces, they have been pulling out or raising prices due to this ambiguity. This has created in many counties an uncertainty of how long they will be covered, or how much they will have to pay for coverage. The purpose of this seems to be simple- Trump wants to crash Obamacare, and he wants to do it in more ways than one.
Not only does signing up for Obamacare give you less stability than it has in the past, signing up will be harder than ever. Obamacare is notorious for being complicated, so naturally Trump decrease the amount of navigators- – called so because they help navigate the marketplaces- by 40% according to CNN Money.
And that’s not all. Trump slashed the advertising budget by 90%, halved the open enrollment period, and will be shutting down the enrollment website most Sundays, when working people have time to enroll. Many sick people will still enroll, but healthy people may decide it’s just not worth the trouble, which brings costs up.
So Obamacare is still the law, but Trump will do anything he can to make it fail. People lose insurance, and all the while Obamacare gets less popular, as it is seen as unworkable. Unless there’s a response from the Democrats like there was to concrete repeal efforts, Trump’s sabotage will be the first step to certain