US House Republicans have presented their plan for replacing the Affordable Care Act. The new plan scraps fines imposed on taxpayers who do not purchase insurance and instead offers tax credits to those who purchase coverage in the open market. Chief Healthcare Economist for Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana Mike Bertaut says that has huge implications for the marketplace.
“I’ve seen actuarial studies that would suggest that taking away that government requirement that you have health insurance could raise rates in the individual market as much as 20%,” Bertaut said.
Under the new proposal, people who let their policy lapse would face penalties, including a potential premium hike of 30% for up to a year. Bertaut says under Obamacare, tax credits are based on income. But he says under this new proposal, by 2020 credits will be based on age.
“Doesn’t matter if your insurance costs $2,000 or $5,000, under 30 you get a $2,000 credit, under 40 it’s $3,000, and then under 64 it’s $4,000,” Bertaut said.
Bertaut says the goal is to deliver the plan for the American Healthcare Act to the Senate by April 1. He says people’s biggest complaint about the ACA was how much premiums rose after it was enacted. He says that’s because more people had access to coverage, many for the first time in their lives, which drove up the cost of healthcare.
“So the first time they go to the doctor they find out you’re diabetic, you have high blood pressure, and high blood sugar, and so they have all this unmet healthcare needs that they’re catching up on,” Bertaut said.