A beginner’s guide to replacing Obamacare

Credit: Braden Kelner/Forum Editor Credit: Braden Kelner/Forum Editor
Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

The House GOP is currently intent on defunding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. Obamacare will likely remain funded and intact through this crisis, but the fact remains that it is an awful piece of legislation that should be replaced. In order to understand how to replace Obamacare, we must first understand what deficiencies our healthcare system had before Obamacare’s passage, and what deficiencies Obamacare itself has.

Obamacare was created to protect those who were disenfranchised by the current system, and make healthcare generally more affordable. These are noble goals, and they underscore two main problems with our healthcare system pre-Obamacare. There were a lot of people who couldn’t get health insurance, such as those with pre-existing conditions, as well as those who didn’t get health insurance through their employers and were unable to afford it themselves. Additionally, sometimes people’s insurance failed to cover the scope of their problems and they were left with exorbitant out-of-pocket costs. These problems can be summed up simply: Sometimes people who needed healthcare couldn’t get it, but most people who needed healthcare were getting it under the old system.

Obamacare tries to solve these problems by making everyone get health insurance that covers a wider range of problems, so that there would be more money in the system. The legislation also eliminates some of the ways that providers change their prices, so that those with pre-existing conditions could get insurance. Additionally, it provides a marketplace with subsidies for those who cannot afford insurance to get healthcare. Finally, it regulates employers so that they have to offer more insurance to more people.

These provisions sound great, but Obamacare has a lot of unintended consequences. To pay for the subsidies, taxes are increasing on health savings accounts and medical devices, which increases the overall cost of healthcare. Employers are cutting employees’ hours because they cannot afford to give part-time employees insurance. Young people are being forced to buy plans that cover far more than they need, increasing their premiums drastically. As a result, many people may pay the cheaper fine rather than get coverage. This will eliminate the crux of Obamacare, which is a massive redistribution of wealth from young, healthy people to old, sick people.

So, given that both systems are flawed, the best way to augment the pre-Obamacare system is to have the government cover preventative and catastrophic care. This sounds socialistic — and it is — but the most efficient insurance scheme is one that involves everyone. Taxes can be adjusted to progressively cover this system, but we are moving into a society where healthcare is being considered a right. As such, we need to begin to work it into our government. This proposed system could additionally replace Medicare and Medicaid to work more efficiently.

This proposed system’s benefits are numerous. First, covering preventative care lowers overall costs because diseases with high costs in later stages are caught sooner. There are elements of this tactic in Obamacare, but we need to embrace this efficient tactic fully. Finally, most health insurance horror stories come from catastrophic care. If the government covers catastrophic care, there will be no hitting limits to coverage with stage four cancer or other debilitating diseases that give the pre-Obamacare system a bad name. This proposed system also gives consumers the ability to shop around for insurance for things like a broken finger or strep throat. This system keeps costs down for routine diseases and procedures, but takes care of everyone in the event that something seriously bad happens.

This potential system is far more efficient than pre-Obamacare and Obamacare because it maintains the benefits of a market system, while taking care of everyone that needs to be taken care of. It will be a tough sell to America, but to ensure a future of happy, healthy, and prosperous citizens, this proposal is the right move for our healthcare system.