Doctor visits will be more costly in 2017 - plus the ACA is on the chopping block
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The new Congress sits down on Tuesday, January 3rd and their first act could affect your insurance in Garner, North Carolina. The GOP-dominated House and Senate have declared their first legislative target as the Affordable Care Act and congressional leaders have said they plan to dismantle it. This can affect consumers in Garner and all across our state. Here is what you need to know.
How Has Obamacare Impacted Garner Consumers?
There are 33% fewer North Carolina consumers that are uninsured since the passage of the ACA six years ago according to the Department of Health and Human Services. That equates to more than 550,000 more people with health coverage.
NC has rejected the Medicaid expansion, which could have covered an additional half-million consumers in the state. The good side of Obamacare is that it allows those with pre-existing conditions to get coverage where they had been blocked and expanded coverage for adult kids on parents’ policies.
The Downside of the Affordable Care Act
With subsidies and low entry costs, the first year or two of the ACA were enticing because the insurance was very affordable. But for 2017, coverage options were drastically limited since Aetna and United Healthcare left North Carolina and that means many Garner consumers are high and dry looking for carriers.
Blue Cross decided to stick around the state despite losing almost half a billion dollars in recent years under the Affordable Care Act in NC alone. There are only three providers at the max in North Carolina, but many areas have just two and some areas just have one provider.
Repeal Won’t Take Place Immediately
Even if Congress repeals Obamacare as the Republicans plan, it won’t take effect right away. The program is already in place for 2017 so Garner consumers need not worry about their next year of coverage. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said repealing the ACA is, “the first item up in the new year.”
The Republican plan is to repeal the ACA, but the effective date for it to end won’t be for a year or two once a replacement program is ready to go. Representative Tom Price from Georgia has been tasked with replacing the Affordable Care Act.
What Will Change If ACA Is Repealed?
Tom Price will be the new Health and Human Services boss and his ACA replacement plan is called the Empowering Patients First Act. His nearly 250-page proposal lists changes including:
- No more healthcare marketplace
- No more mandate to buy insurance or financial penalty if you don’t
- Tax credits to help would be age-based, not income-based
- Keep coverage for pre-existing medical conditions
- Keeping continuous coverage would come with benefits
- A punishment premium of 50% more for a time if coverage is dropped
- Expand use of Health Savings Accounts
- Grants to state to cover higher-risk patients such as the old or chronically ill
- Cap on business tax deductions for employee insurance coverage
- Repeal expanded Medicaid
- Allow competition across state lines by insurers
- Eliminate mandatory services like maternity and pediatric care
The existing Affordable Care Act is admittedly imperfect. The deductibles are staggering for many Garner consumers and would pose a problem if they had to use services that required them to pay this up front. A family of four has a nearly $12,000 deductible. A single person can have a deductible of $6,000. These stiff charges can cause financial problems.
If the repeal and replacement occur, the changes won’t go into effect until a year, two or even longer. It’s also not clear whether a new plan will happen, will offer better or worse coverage, or will be more financially beneficial to Garner, North Carolina consumers. We’ll know more after the new Congress is sworn in and they determine their order of business.
If medical bills are causing you financial problems and you can’t dig out of debt, contact the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt for a free Garner bankruptcy consultation. Call +1-919-646-2654 now for a free appointment at one of our locations in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Wilson, Greensboro, Garner or Wilmington.