The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare”, may be repealed at some point in 2017. While it is much too early to speculate on what type of health insurance program may replace it, anyone that is currently enrolled in this benefit should start to plan accordingly. As we always say, you should always plan for the worst and hope for the best. This applies to life in general, and not just medical care.
Currently more than 20 million people are enrolled into the ACA. What is ironic is that enrollment has been surging since the election, with over 100,000 people applying on the Wednesday as well as Thursday after the results. It may be that many people are trying to enroll into the health care program before any changes occur to it, as maybe they feel that joining now will guarantee that they benefit from any future changes.
As of the middle of November, there is no current plan that would replace the Affordable Care Act. So no one knows what to expect. But we find it hard to believe that some of the key parts to it, such as providing health insurance coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, would just be terminated without a similar benefit provided. Anyhow, here are some random thoughts over what people should be doing now if they need an alternative.
Alternatives to consider
First, there is no need to panic. There has been some talk from the Republicans, including Mike Pence, about there being a two year transition period. But once again, this may or may not occur and you should not depend on that. In addition, even if that two year transition does not occur, Obamacare can’t be repealed until early 2017, after the new administration comes into office.
What we strongly suggest to anyone that needs affordable health insurance is get a job with an employer that offers this benefit. The fact is that the Affordable Care Act only provides coverage to a little over 20 million Americans while private companies as well as people that work for the government insure tens of millions of individuals. The vast majority of Americans get their health insurance from their employer.
Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 77% of full time employees have insurance from their employer, and this equates to about 50% of the population. So start the search now for an employer that offers medical as well as (if possible) dental care. Even though the economy is very strong and employers are desperately trying to find skilled workers, it still may take time to get this job, so start the search now.
As of the beginning of 2016, about 17% of the population is enrolled into Medicaid, and about 12% in Medicare. The balance are either uninsured or in Group Care. So if you are currently enrolled into Obamacare it may be a good time to learn more about those other government benefit programs. In general, Medicaid is for very low income households and those in poverty. The other program, Medicare, tends to be for the elderly as well as disabled. But take the time to look into both of these.
Even if Obamacare is completely canceled and no other federal government alternative was put into place (which we think is very unlikely) families can still turn to other public health programs or volunteer driven services. Two of the main ones include community clinics as well as Federal Government Qualified Health Centers. Both of these provide free or low cost medical care to the less fortunate.Read more affordable health insurance policies.
A couple other suggestions are to start to look into charity care at a local hospital as well as programs offered directly by pharmaceutical companies. Many corporations offer plans to very low income patients as they too try their best to make medical care more accessible to the general population.
So while it may be many weeks, if not months, before we know the fate of Obamacare, those are some of the main alternatives that Americans have. It is never a bad idea to take a few minutes to learn about some of these programs, how to enroll inf/when the time comes, the pros/cons to them, etc.