Shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump set out to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and said what those of us in health care have known for a while: “Health care IS complicated.”
As a professional in the industry for more than 25 years, I can tell you something else about health care: it is expensive to provide to everyone. However, even if I could choose not to provide my employees with health care or other critical benefits, I still would. The business case for health care underscores a larger truth: it is penny wise and pound foolish to cut corners when it comes to the lives of your family, employees, or citizens of the United States.
Earlier this month, the revised American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed by three votes in the House of Representatives and was handed off to the Senate for their review.
As written, this bill disproportionately targets high-risk individuals and attempts to cut costs by slashing Medicaid funding by $839 billion and stripping healthcare from 24 million Americans over the next decade.
While a bit heavy-handed with mandates and penalties, the ACA – aka “ObamaCare” – delivered health care coverage to millions of Americans, many for the first time. It pooled Americans into a group-rated marketplace to share risk and it eliminated prohibitive policies around pre-existing conditions. Parents also obtained the option to cover their children up to the age of 26.
The ACA offered increased access to health care and improved general wellness through preventative services. For those of us who work in the health care and financial service sectors, it’s easy to see how this simple access to preventative care has a direct and positive impact on the American economy by limiting risk in our health care system. Americans are at an advantage: they are healthier, they don’t pay as much for treatment received and are more productive at work because they’ve received preventative care.
The AHCA on the other hand restores insurance discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, some of which include sexual assault, caesarean sections and mental illness. The plan ends the expansion of Medicaid, raises the price for individuals between the ages of 50 and 64 to access care, and reintroduces high risk pooling which has been proven to put health care out of reach for the most sick and vulnerable.
If the AHCA, as written, becomes law it will impact someone you know and could potentially leave that friend or loved one without the coverage they can afford, or without coverage entirely.
This is the challenge now facing the Senate. As the Senate reviews the bill before them, they should assume a business mindset and consider how they can make our country healthier, wealthier and more productive.
Businesses of all sizes have an opportunity to lead on this effort as well. They can protect American health care by pooling risk, self-funding health plans and working with innovative programs to lower costs. One method they can use – captives – is a funding mechanism that allows individual or groups of companies to have greater control over their risk, saving money in the short and long term.
We should tackle this together, not separately. It not only makes economic sense, but it defines the spirit of our nation. This debate goes beyond health care – it is about the people in our lives that we want to protect and keep healthy.
The version of the bill that goes before the Senate for a vote should reflect this approach. The health of our country depends on the strength of our health care system. Any new legislation should prioritize keeping all Americans healthy, improving their well-being now and in the future.