Symposium 2016: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is set to undergo repeal or possible major changes in the near future. Will those changes be of benefit to those in need of coverage, or should the plan be abandoned altogether?

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent- The Congress is soon to be at work on repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA-Obamacare), and the changes, which have been proposed through Dr. Tom Price’s Empowering Patients First Act and other House Republican alternatives to Obamacare will most likely provide partial to full replacement of the Affordable  Care Act.

The Empowering Patients First Act is aimed at patient-centered provisions. The changes to be considered appear to be a start in the right direction and its features would benefit those in need of coverage because of built-in tax relief and affordable, flexible and individual coverage.

The proposed features would control costs and increase coverage in private health insurance markets and would provide tax relief to individuals so they would be able to control their own health insurance policies.  Tax relief measures would eliminate inflationary and inequitable federal tax treatment of health insurance, which has long been a problem in health insurance markets.  Policies would be flexible and secure so a policy holder could take their plan from job to job and through various stages of life and healthcare needs.

Other proposals under consideration are independent health insurance pools that are designed with less costly coverage in mind for individuals and small groups. In addition, changes would also be incorporated to allow association health plans, which would allow for small business owners to team together across state lines.

With patient choice of coverage and open competition in health insurance markets, costs would be driven down and better controlled.  Health insurance providers would have the competitive advantage in their coverage as they could offer specific benefit packages and health care delivery systems that would work to the advantage of patients of all ages and health situations.

In addition to Dr. Price’s proposals and those of other Republican’s, there is support for strengthening,  improving , and enriching health savings accounts by allowing account owners to increase contributions to their accounts and provide for more greater flexibility in account holders in using their accounts. More flexibility is also considered by allowing and permitting individuals to purchase health plans across state lines.

Those in opposition to Republican plans for appeal or abandonment of the Affordable Care Act will not be happy with the dismantling of Obama’s signature healthcare plan, and many in the House and Senate against repeal or replacement are saying it simply cannot be done and will take years to revamp and reinstitute, but Republicans say differently, so the fight in Congress will ensue and the major players will do their best to stymie any efforts to move forward.  Opponents of the repeal and replacement actions will simply have to accept that there is a better way to provide affordable healthcare  to  American citizens.

Myrtle Beach, SC Correspondent- I still don’t have insurance because my husband and I would have a premium (through the marketplace) of over $900. Affordable eh? There are good things about the ACA but it’s so riddled with problems I think it would be best to scrap it all-together and start over with something that would actually work. Start by letting companies sell across state lines! More competition should lower prices. Promote healthcare savings accounts for higher deductibles. There are a lot of things we can do to make our healthcare better without penalties and mandates. How about tort reform? Of course there isn’t time to get into that, but it’s merely an example of how we can fix the system.

 

Owatonna, MN Correspondent- The ACA attempted to improve health care and lower costs by making sweeping changes to health insurance rules and regulations. After several years of experience, we can conclude that the ACA has done more harm than good. Overall costs for insurance have gone up, people have been forced to switch doctors and health care providers when they were explicitly promised they wouldn’t have to switch, costs for some prescription drugs have skyrocketed, and overall satisfaction with health care delivery has declined.

While well-intentioned, the ACA failed to fix many problems. Some problems were ignored, such as encouraging competition among insurance companies or offering portability of health insurance policies from one employer to another. Some parts of the bill make sense and should be kept—such as allowing children under age twenty-six to be covered by a parent’s insurance policy, but the components of the ACA that haven’t worked should be abandoned.

To ensure that no one is denied coverage or forced out of an insurance plan that is affordable and they like, the ACA should not be abandoned altogether. The Republican Congress and administration should first determine what the problems are in the ACA, then craft policies and changes that will fix those problems, and finally put the new plan into place as seamlessly as possible.

The primary goal of any revamping of the ACA should be to increase free market competition between insurers, health providers, and drug manufacturers. Incentives should also be given to promote wellness since our health care system is skewed to equate poor health with high profits. The closer we can come to finding a way for a healthy populace to be more profitable for healthcare-related businesses than an unhealthy populace, the better our health care system will be.

 

Gastonia, NC Correspondent- The inescapable fact of Obamacare is that more people have health insurance now than did before the ACA was enacted. However, because of a loss of the original vision and the failure to realize that those who were going to lose money on the deal would do everything in their power to sabotage the system, it has worked about 20% as well as originally intended.  Some form of national health insurance plan is necessary, be it expanding existing systems or bringing in a new one, but the ACA is broken beyond fixing.  Federal money will need to go into the program, and insurance companies need to be allowed to make a fair profit on the coverage they offer. I’m nowhere near financially smart enough to figure out all the details, but having a billionaire businessman in charge of the operation gives me hope that it will be worked out.

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