In 2010, the United States passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act , also known as Obamacare, which brought about significant changes in healthcare coverage throughout the country. This landmark legislation sought to provide affordable healthcare for all Americans by expanding Medicaid, increasing access to insurance, regulating private insurers’ practices, and implementing numerous other provisions.
However, since its inception, ACA has been repeatedly challenged in court and fiercely debated among politicians. Although it has remained largely intact over the past decade, recent political developments suggest that its fate may hang in balance once again. Here we will examine what would happen if Obamacare is repealed and discuss some potential ramifications of such a decision.
The Legislative Landscape
Before diving into potential repercussions of an ACA repeal let us first consider what led us here. Despite numerous attempts to dismantle ACA during his time in office President Trump failed to achieve his goal of fully repealing or replacing it with alternative legislation.
However, now that Joe Biden has taken office, Republicans are considering new strategies vis-a-vis ACA. They’re doing so via a lawsuit challenging specific provisions of the act like individual mandate. If they succeed then certain key parts can become vulnerable potentially opening up ways towards full scale repeal.
What Would Happen Then?
Any attempt at wholesale repeal of Obamacare would be immensely disruptive for millions who have come to rely on expanded access to healthcare under this law. Both individuals and businesses could face significant financial consequences from losing access to benefits or seeing premiums rise substantially.
Millions Could Lose Health Insurance
If repealed ACA’s expansion subsidized health insurance program would vanish overnight leaving millions without coverage. While other public insurances exist such as medicaid et al they cater chiefly to people below poverty line.
The Return Of Pre-Existing Condition Discrimination
Prior preventing discrimination against pre-existing conditions was not an easy task. But under the ACA people with pre existing medical conditions could purchase insurance at relatively affordable rates. Repealing the act would put millions of Americans newly diagnosed with Covid-19 potentially along with many others, at risk of being priced out.
No More Free Preventive Care
A major boon of Obamacare was that it enforced lots of preventive health measures and waived costs for services such as mammograms, cholesterol screenings and cancer screening tests saving thousands from exorbitant bills. Its absence would drive patients to curb proactivity in seeking healthcare until it’s too late.
The Return Of Lifetime Limits
Before ACA Insurers had lifetime limits on what they’d pay out – which often was exhausted by those suffering again a chronic disease which ran huge treatment bills, think some types of brain tumors etc. Under ObamaCare individuals’ coverage became more comprehensive without any such cap ensuring they wouldn’t drain their savings or worse. Without provisions to prevent lifetime limits an individual requiring continuous medication or care might soon face a situation where insurance stops paying entirely leaving them high and dry.
The international press has been documenting Trump-era attempts against ACA since 2016 highlighting potential dangers in doing so time and again. Upending Affordable Care Act without considering its ramifications lies as unwise now as it did four years ago. While repeal remains on the horizon, its safe to say sizable portion of Americans are glued with bated breath hoping some sense prevails around this whole affair.
Q: Would everyone lose health insurance ?
A: Those whose access came through obtaining coverage via subsidized state managed programs/in marketplaces like Exchange will most likely lose health insurance but other alternatives still exist beyond Medicaid threshold /employed-based plans etc.
Q: What about those who don’t have pre-existing conditions?
A: Without regulations stipulating non-discrimination, prices for all may increase dramatically specifically if there is no law to block insurers segregating certain classes of people.