While the health care reform debate is reaching a boiling point in Washington, D.C., it’s important not to lose sight of how individual patients could be affected. Based on the American Health Care Act that recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives, these are examples of how hypothetical individuals from different walks of life and living in different parts of the country could see their insurance costs and access to quality care change.
Bruce has run his own handyman business for nearly 30 years. He works hard, makes $50,000 per year, lives within his means, and has been a diligent saver for retirement. He’s eyeing retirement next year, but health care costs are a big concern. He buys his insurance through the healthcare.gov exchange and pays around $5,000 for his silver plan after available premium subsidies. Covering that amount will not be easy, but Bruce is confident his retirement savings can cover all of his living expenses and healthcare.
Under the proposed AHCA alternative, Bruce would see his costs skyrocket, quadrupling to more than $22,000 per year, even with the proposed tax credits. Retirement would be out of the question, as these premiums would be more than 40% of his income. Covering those premiums will be nearly impossible, even if Bruce keeps up his current pace of business.
Luke has been working as a mental health counselor since graduating college, and until recently has been insured on his parents’ health plan. Now, being off of his parents’ plan, Luke has had to pay $2,480 per year for his silver plan, as the community organization he works for does not offer health insurance coverage. As he makes $30,000 per year, the premiums he currently pays are a stretch, but doable. Luke fears that if his premiums increase much more, his monthly budget of rent, utilities and car expenses would be put out of whack.
Under the proposed AHCA alternative, Luke would see his premiums increase to $4,550 per year, a 84% increase. If the AHCA passes and becomes law, Luke is considering dropping health insurance coverage altogether.
Michelle has worked at a retail store in town for years, making minimum wage, and struggles to make ends meet. The Affordable Care Act gave her the opportunity to finally be able to afford health insurance coverage, as her store doesn’t offer coverage to its employees. She currently pays around $1,000 per year for her silver plan after available premium subsidies. She has been able to keep up with these affordable premiums, which make up approximately five percent of her income.
Under the proposed AHCA alternative, Michelle fears that she will lose her health insurance coverage as her premiums would skyrocket to $7,670 per year – a 700% increase, even with the proposed tax credits. With such a limited income, Michelle can’t afford to spend about 40% of her income on health insurance. So, if the AHCA becomes law, she’s planning on again going without health insurance, and will access emergency rooms for her care.