The Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, was introduced in an attempt to make health care insurance accessible to the portion of the US population who do not have it. This is an attempt to drive down the nation's cost of healthcare, which is currently the highest in the world. In simplistic terms, the Affordable Care Act means that by law the whole of the American population must have health insurance, but the government offers options to help the poorer members of society if they are struggling to afford it. This creates marketplaces in the form of websites run individually by states, allowing users the ability to go online and buy policies, much in the same way that other price comparison sites work. Also, if a business has over 50 employees, then by law they must offer health insurance, which again fails to help the poorer and unemployed members of society.
The Republicans have been attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act ever since it was introduced in 2010. The legal requirement that all businesses with more than 50 employees must provide health insurance is a significant overhead cost. This then affects growth and decreases job opportunities, which in turn lowers the earning potential for many. They argue that when businesses thrive, society thrives. Therefore, the propose to repeal the Affordable Care Act and remove fines that uninsured parties currently receive. The plan will also see the reduction of Medicaid offered, which is a healthcare programme offered for to less wealthy Americans who cannot afford health insurance. However, there are some other elements that the new law will have in common with the Affordable Care Act. It will still allow children to stay on their parents health insurance policies until the age of 26 and ban insurers from refusing to cover individuals with existing health complications. The similarities between the two bills has led for some to refer to it as 'Obamacare lite' and feel that it should go further to fully repeal the old bill.
There's also a plan in place that suggests that states will get three options which would allow them to keep the Afford Care Act in place, if they so wish. Alternatively, they can switch to a market based system or receive no assistance from the government at all. However, many are passionate that the way forward is not to not look backward and repeal the Affordable Care Act, but instead look at how we can progress and improve the bill. It's fair to say that whichever view you take, the Affordable Care Act will undoubtedly look a little different in a few years time. Many are worried that if it is repealed, their coverage purchased through the scheme might become invalid. President Trump has claimed that introducing a new law will be done simultaneously with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, so as not to leave anyone without insurance. House Speaker Paul Ryan has echoed this view, stating that “We don't want to pull the rug out from under people..”, which should mean that all policies purchased in 2017 should be valid for the year.
Looking to the future, it's unclear how the Affordable Care Act will look in 2018 and the effect it will have on U.S. citizens. Insurers are threatening to pull out of the individual insurance market due to uncertainty, which will make it difficult for individuals to get health insurance who aren't offer coverage by their employer. President Trump has given these insurers until the end of June to reveal their standing in the individual health insurance exchanges, to givea better understanding of where we are.
Until then, we wait.