This year’s presidential election could greatly affect the access and affordability of healthcare. The current administration is still trying to rescind the Affordable Care Act. Repeal of the ACA will affect us all. Most families have one or more members with pre-existing conditions. We certainly do not want to reduce access to healthcare during a pandemic. Access to healthcare should not be about politics.
Joe Biden’s Healthcare slogan is “Ensure Health Care Is A Right For All, Not A Privileged Few.” Being a health insurance agent, I would like to offer a few details of Biden’s proposals.
Biden plans to expand access to the ACA, increasing benefits by lowering deductibles and copays while simultaneously lowering premiums. Currently, subsidies are based on a medium level Silver plan. Deductibles and copays are still not affordable in many cases. Biden plans to offer subsidies based on a high benefit Gold plan. Adding a public option, along with a few other changes will provide healthcare access to almost all of the 27 million who are currently uninsured in our country.
Fourteen states, including North Carolina, have not expanded Medicaid. One of the most heartbreaking aspects of owning a health insurance agency has been having to deny individuals enrollment in the ACA because the individual does not have enough income. More than 1 million North Carolinians are currently uninsured. Biden plans to enroll these lower income families in a premium-free public option. Since the public option will be a national program, states will not be able to limit access to this program.
Currently, individuals offered employer insurance do not have the opportunity to choose an ACA plan. Biden plans to offer the public option to employees as an alternative to their employer plan.
Many middle-income workers have been left out of subsidies to help pay their healthcare premiums. Premiums for these individuals and families are often not affordable. The income cap, currently 400 percent of the federal poverty level, will be removed under the Biden plan. No family will have to pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for their health insurance.
In addition to expanding access to health insurance through improvements to the ACA and the new public option, Biden plans to lower the eligibility for Medicare to age 60. Additional cost-cutting measures central to the Biden plan include:
1. Stopping “Surprise Billing.” Currently, patients seeking treatment at in-network hospitals may later be billed for services from out-of-network providers who provided treatment while the patient was at the in-network hospital. Healthcare providers would be barred from charging out-of-network rates to patients treated at in-network hospitals.
2. Repealing the law that limits Medicare’s ability to negotiate with drug manufacturers. Medicare serves 67 million Americans and should have extreme leverage to lower drug costs. Congress stripped this leverage away from Medicare in a bill passed in 1982. As a condition of participation in the Medicare program and public option, all brand, biotech, and abusively priced generic drugs will be prohibited from increasing their prices more than the general inflation rate. A tax penalty will be imposed on drug manufacturers that increase the costs of their brand, biotech, or abusively priced generic over the general inflation rate.
3. Increasing competition to lower U.S. drug prices. Biden proposes allowing our citizens to purchase drugs from other countries as long as they have been deemed safe by the U.S. Health and Human Services Division.
4. Increasing the supply of quality generic drugs. There are currently several loopholes that need to be closed to allow more generics to come to market sooner.
I strongly support universal health coverage in the U.S. through a fair tax system. Biden’s plan falls short of universal coverage but is a solid plan to provide affordable healthcare access to millions of uninsured Americans and to decrease prescription prices. President Trump has not detailed any alternative to the ACA he is trying to repeal. Without the ACA, insurance companies will deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. Access to healthcare for all is a necessity for parents to be able to work and provide for their families.
My vote will be to increase affordable access to healthcare.
Sherry Eason of Emerald Isle is the owner of Get Covered With Care.