What Happens to Seniors If Obamacare Is Repealed?Brenda Whitman
The Affordable Care Act has been the subject of much contention in the GOP ever since it was first enacted. Certainly it’s far from perfect, and many Americans are seeing their premiums rise significantly due to Obamacare’s flaws.
One of Donald Trump’s campaign promises was to repeal the act and replace it with something better. Now, both he and Congress are laying the groundwork to do just that. But what happens if they’re successful in repealing Obamacare? If you’re a senior on Medicare, what happens to your coverage and what you pay for it? There could be serious repercussions.
Choosing a New Plan
Even though the first steps have been taken towards repealing Obamacare, a new plan has yet to be decided on officially. Several ideas have been thrown around, but they’re still in their early stages and not yet ready to be enacted.
One of the aspects of the Affordable Care Act that may end up on the chopping block sooner rather than later is the restriction on how much insurance companies can charge to seniors. Americans in their 50s and 60s already pay higher premiums than any other demographic. Without the current regulations, they could end up paying much, much more, depending on what new plan is adopted.
One plan, proposed by Paul Ryan, could have them paying up to five times more for health insurance than younger adults. Another plan would involve giving out tax credits for use in paying insurance premiums. These credits would increase based on age, so in theory, seniors would pay less. Unfortunately, under the current proposal, those tax credits would only go up to $3,000. That isn’t nearly enough to provide adequate coverage for seniors, and they’d still end up paying a lot more than they currently are to make up the difference.
Focus on the Young
Much of the focus for devising a new healthcare plan has been on keeping it affordable for young people. Particularly millennials who aren’t yet established in their careers and may be struggling to make ends meet, might have trouble paying high premiums, and shouldn’t have to go without health insurance because of a low income.
However, as Trump and the GOP try to keep prices low for the young, rising premiums for older people may be an unintended repercussion. The thinking is that they can afford to pay more for their coverage than younger people. But many seniors are on fixed incomes and rely on Medicare for their insurance needs. Some are in even less of a position to see their premiums rise than millennials are.
With most retirement funds currently lacking and social security nearing depletion, paying more for medical care is something most older people can’t afford. It’s difficult to know exactly how seniors, or any other demographic, will be affected by new healthcare regulations, until they actually take effect. None of the plans currently on the table looks like a favorable option to seniors. Let’s hope the GOP is able to come up with a more equitable solution that allows everyone the care they need, without costing an arm and a leg.