Image: Gage Skidmore / Flickr
While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hoped to pass a repeal-only bill to Obamacare, some in his party refused to support a bill that leaves many consumers without healthcare coverage.
With yet another failure to repeal-and-replace Obamacare, Americans find themselves in overwhelming uncertainty when it comes to their healthcare coverage. Here’s what the Senate’s decision ultimately means for most Americans.
1. Obamacare Remains the Law of the Land: The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare”, is still the law of the land. Despite massive amounts of rhetoric, news reports, speculation, fear, happiness, projections & reports — nothing changes. While there have certainly been some concerns over whether such Obamacare subsidies will continue to be covered, it seems that the subsidies will stay…at least for now. The rules for subsidy eligibility and penalties for not having health coverage don’t change.
2. Many Americans Still Left with Few Options: There will be many Americans who still either can’t afford healthcare plans from the government marketplace or who can’t qualify for subsidies. There are likely even more who are confused about their options.
3. For the Most Part, Consumers Don’t Have to Pay the Obamacare Penalty: The Trump Administration has “suggested” that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) not enforce the tax penalty for not having a qualified health plan. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the IRS has no way to check if people tell a little white lie about their coverage, but that the tax penalty may still exist for those with a certain income level. Because the cost of ACA plans will exceed 8.15 percent of the taxable household income for many families, the tax penalty is waived in those instances. Most consumers don’t understand this.
4. More Consumers Shift to Short-Term Plans: An increasingly large number of people will buy short-term medical plans and fixed-indemnity plans — but those types of plans have many trade-offs for consumers. You can read more about short-term health insurance to see if it’s a possible alternative for you.
5. Increased Out-of-Pocket Costs: Consumers will pay more costs out-of-pocket than last year (although, this may have been even more had the current GOP plan passed). Those who aren’t proactively seeking ways to decrease their healthcare spending will be at a major disadvantage. If you need some help, follow our tips for reducing out-of-pocket healthcare costs here.
6. Employer Coverage Remains Desirable: Being employed and covered by a small employer plan is looking super attractive for many people who may have instead wanted to be self-employed. In such an uncertain market, buying their own health coverage is less desirable than having coverage under an employer.
7. Expect No Immediate Changes to Our Healthcare System: While we’ll continue to see weekly news stories on what Democrats, Republicans, or President Trump will do about healthcare, likely nothing will happen to our current system. The cold reality is, at this late date, there is nothing they will do; ACA will remain as-is for now.