If you’re reading the paper or following the news on your favorite website, you know that health care coverage is totally up in the year next year, as incoming President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress have repeatedly vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often known as Obamacare.
So what should you be doing right now as you make decisions about next year’s health plan?
The short answer is “nothing.”
How can I make decisions for 2017?
You should continue to review your available plan choices and sign up for the plan best meeting your needs and budget for 2017.
There may indeed be changes to health care, but they will not be immediate, and they may not in fact occur for many months. And once all the fact-finding and discussions have concluded, it’s hard to say how much or what will actually change. So hold off on making any dramatic changes for now.
I get health care through work. Why should I care about the Affordable Care Act?
What many people do not realize is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, affects millions more people than those officially enrolled in health care plans on the government exchanges. It also affects the coverage of tens of millions of Americans and their employers, who pay for health care themselves without any government subsidies.
For example, as a result of the ACA rule changes, you can now obtain health insurance even if you have pre-existing conditions like asthma or diabetes, or are buying health care on your own, and not through an employer. Under the new rules, women cannot be charged more for coverage than men, even if they are of child-bearing age. Many preventative services like mammograms are provided without additional charge. If you left a job, or were laid off, you can still buy coverage to keep you protected until Medicare kicks in. The ACA has allowed small businesses to obtain cost-effective health insurance, and remain competitive in hiring and retaining employees, even if they have only a few employees. Young adults can remain on their parents’ policy until they get on a firm financial footing.
None of that was possible before the ACA, and even President-elect Trump realizes that a broad-brush repeal is not possible or desirable.
So what’s ahead?
We are all aware that aspects of the ACA that have been heavily criticized, and will undoubtedly be revamped under the new Administration.
But we do believe that our political leaders – on both sides of the aisle – realize that there is no rolling back of the clock. Americans of all walks of life need access to health care coverage, and should not be penalized due to health history, employment status, age, or geography.
Let’s hope Washington makes it a priority to find a compromise, calm everyone’s fears, and show people what health care can look like in a truly “Great America.”