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Obamacare 2.0: questionable replacement for American Healthcare

Xavier Conzet (‘19)

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As a conservative that voted for Trump and as someone who benefits from Obamacare, I have mixed feelings about the current health care proposal. How am I supposed to trust a system that was thrown together at the last minute and all the White House will say about it is that they promise “no one will be worse off financially?”   That is far too vague to be considered an acceptable response.  When I am looking at healthcare, good coverage is just as important as the cost.  Telling me that I will not lose money means nothing when I have no assurance that my insurance will be of any value. If I am going to accept this new plan, then a few things need to be addressed.

The first thing I take issue with is the fact that the bill will only provide two years for people with pre-existing conditions to obtain coverage.  While this does provide plenty of time for people currently with pre-existing to obtain coverage, it does not provide a means to guarantee coverage to people with those conditions in the future.  After those two years are up, there is nothing stopping an insurance company from denying individuals due to them being a “bad investment.”  For further clarification on continuous coverage, it only applies to those who already had insurance before their illness came to be.  Illnesses such as cancer are not something you can predict and we as a society need to make sure that there is a means for it to be taken care of. 

The second thing I take issue with is the way that the health savings account (HSA) will be implemented.  While I recognize that this plan will benefit me, I also see that it will benefit specific groups a lot more.  With the way these savings accounts will be set up, people end up benefiting more or less depending on how large their income is.

With the current plan being a tax-free account that you can put an unlimited amount into, it already serves wealthier people much more than the poor.  It also allows family members to inherit all of the money into their account tax free.  This is a loophole with the estate tax.  Essentially this law would make it so that a rich person could have their families inherit free insurance for generations. That will only serve to benefit the rich rather than the poor.

While there are some obvious problems in this system, it is important to recognize that there are also many potential benefits. While the way the HSAs will be set up benefit the rich more than the poor, that doesn’t mean they do not help the poor at all. The fact that this is an untaxed account means that there are a lot of things that can be done with it to benefit poor families. It can be used to purchase health insurance without tax as well as prescriptions, nutritional supplements, and weight loss programs.  These specific parts of the bill will help many Americans by encouraging them to actively live a healthier lifestyle than they already do. 

The last two big benefits I see in this plan are tax deductions for doctors doing charity work and opening up competition for health insurance companies in different states.  Allowing doctors to deduct up to ten percent of their income from taxes based on how much charity work they do as a doctor will only encourage doctors to provide more charity care, thus helping poor members of American communities. The growing amount of charity health care could act as competition to companies and they would have to lower their costs in order to compete.

This could actually be complemented by the reduction of interstate regulation of health insurance providers.  Their already lowering cost due to charity competition would be added to the growing competition of companies from several other states. This competition would lead to lower healthcare prices as well as more options that are tailored to the specific needs of each client. 

As I have previously stated, I have mixed feelings about this proposal. I see that there are some areas where it might be a step backwards.  There are also many beneficial aspects. I am cautiously optimistic about this plan. But only the future will tell if it is overall a good one.

Signed,

Xavier Conzet (‘19)

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