Late on a Wednesday afternoon, my staffer climbed on her bike to ride home from my office in Washington, D.C. When she looked both ways to cross Independence Avenue, she thought she had time to reach the other side. She didn't.
The light turned green and a silver Nissan accelerated into her side, flipping her over and carrying her through the intersection until she turned to the stunned driver and asked him to stop. She rolled off the windshield and limped to the sidewalk, dragging her bent bicycle behind her. Concerned passers-by clustered around her, flagged down Capitol Police, and one even followed the driver to capture his license plate.
After the accident, my staffer was left with a sprained shoulder and ankle-- a miracle, considering the circumstances. She realized the next morning she would need physical therapy.
After reviewing the details of her Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) healthcare plan, which her position in Congress requires her to buy, she was satisfied her plan would cover physical therapy. However, when she finally got an appointment the next week, she found that was not the case. Her visit came out of her deductible, which was 2,000 dollars. It was September, and she was nowhere close to meeting the 2,000 dollar mark before the end of the year, so she had pay for the visit out of pocket.
This is one of the issues with the Affordable Care Act. Its supporters perpetuate the narrative that the health exchanges are successful because they have increased "access" to healthcare. However, many plans' deductibles are so high that patients can't access the benefits, like my staffer realized at her first physical therapy visit.
Supporters of Obamacare seem to choose the statistics that conveniently bolster the results they desire, instead of those that truly indicate success. Access doesn't matter if the plans people have don't work for them.
Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce recently released a deductible tracker that compiles deductible costs across the country. In 2016, it showed that deductibles for Obamacare plans increased by an average of 8.4%. Seventeen states saw deductibles increase by double digits. The New York Times even admitted in a report that rising out-of-pocket costs cause many ACA plans to be “all but useless” for families already struggling financially.
One of the brightest alternatives to this aspect of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the option that allows citizens to choose from the free marketplace instead of a limited market defined by bureaucrats. This option is a key element of House Republicans’ Better Way plan for healthcare. Allowing users to access more plans on an open marketplace will increase the competition, creating more plans with lower deductibles, or, if the user prefers, plans with higher deductibles and lower premiums.
In the Better Way plan, tax credits would also be available for individuals defined by certain parameters. Those individuals, some of which would be those whose employers don't provide insurance, would take the tax credit and use it to purchase the healthcare plan that best fits their family's needs. But the healthcare plan would be on the free market, not a pre-tailored state or federal exchange, which would result in more accessible benefits for American citizens.
Additionally, premiums on the healthcare exchanges are skyrocketing as more and more insurers withdraw from the states when they find that staying isn't financially sustainable. Under the House Republicans’ plan, insurers would operate on the free market, which would increase competition and result in lower premiums for patients. Again, this would actually result in increased access to affordable healthcare, instead of merely claiming to do so.
It's time for a change. It's time for healthcare plans that actually increase access to doctors for all Americans, while at the same time are cost effective, without sacrificing quality.
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