I would like to thank all the readers for giving me some great feedback on The Affordable Care Act Series. There were times when it was difficult not to sway one way or another when I was writing some of the articles. The goal of the series was to be informative and at the same time separate fact from myth; hopefully, the goal was accomplished.
As for those who have a small business and thought I didn’t spend enough time on that aspect, I hear you. Like yourself, I am a small-business owner and I am very concerned about the effect of the ACA on my business. Most businesses are complex and have a number of issues facing them. While I can explain the facts and impacts of the ACA, I will leave the technical aspects to my accountant friends.
The ACA is no longer a political issue; it is a reality which begins Oct. 1. Many people forget the ACA has been a major part of health care since 2010, when it was passed. Like the ACA, another controversial program had similar concerns under a democratic administration. The Children’s Health Insurance Plans was created and passed under the Clinton Administration in 1997. There was major opposition to covering children who had no health insurance and many feared the cost would break the system. According to the Congressional Budget Office at the time, the cost was going to be unsupportable. CHIP cost $40 billion during its first 10 years, and the debate continues over the cost today, but the program works. What is not discussed is the real cost of handling children without insurance. Yes, the program cost $40 billion, but if those same children stayed uninsured and did not receive the routine and wellness checkups, the cost to the taxpayer and government would have been much greater than $40 billion, some estimates have placed the cost around $60 billion to $70 billion.
Is the ACA necessary? Yes, if you have medical problems, pay extremely high premiums or you are seeing your health premium increase by 10 percent or better a year. The answer is no if you are young, healthy or can afford to pay whatever increases come your way.
Do I support the ACA? No. This may shock many of you, but there needs to be more research for better solutions. However, I feel like we are all stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to health insurance. The CBO has estimated the ACA will cost about $1.1 trillion during the next 10 years. Even with cuts to Medicaid and other entitlement programs, we cannot continue to run our country this way.
The CBO has also estimated that any bill to repeal the ACA would increase the federal deficit by $109 billion over 10 years. So we could dismantle the ACA and the taxpayer spends over $100 billion to get rid of it. I have one question, if we get rid of the ACA, what will replace it and does anyone think the insurance companies are going to give back the premium increases we have seen in last three years if ACA is repealed?
I am going to address an email that was sent to me a couple weeks ago. “Mr. Hunt, you are the expert, so how would your plan differ?” I am not sure; there are several problems the U.S. faces. First, the U.S. spends 17 percent of its GDP on health care, more than any other country in the world. If we do nothing, health care spending by 2080 is projected to account for 40 percent of the U.S. economy according to the CBO. Second, most developed countries have universal health care. In countries like Japan, Germany and Canada, people have made concessions and still get excellent medical care. To address one reader, the U.S. health care system is not the best in the world — not even top 10. But, as taxpayers, we pay like it is. We want care now without concessions. People are conditioned to get medical treatment immediately regardless of emergency or not. When people do not get the services, legal action is usually the course of choice. Other countries have dealt with major issues affecting health care like malpractice awards and multiple demands for the newest technology.
A good starting place, figure out how insurance companies are making money in countries that have universal health care. Insurance companies state the ACA will force them to lose money and offer higher premiums — interestingly, premiums are lower and profits are up in other countries with more restrictive health care laws.
For now, we will settle for the ACA. It will be a Band-Aid on an open wound.
Darek Hunt, a Lumberton resident, has his master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration and is a doctoral student in Health Sciences. He specializes in health care administration and health policy.