Editorial: The High Cost of Healthcare

The Affordable Care Act (ACA,) needs adjustments
Editorial: The High Cost of Healthcare
Gracias a la reforma de salud (Obamacare), más hispanos en EEUU tienen seguro médico.
Foto: Archivo

The fact that premiums for the Affordable Care Act (ACA,) also known as Obamacare, will go up an average 25% for a significant number of beneficiaries is bad news. The law has drastically reduced the number of people without health insurance and requires bipartisan support to get much-needed corrections.

In 2010, 48.6 million people in the United States did not have health insurance. Today it is 27.3 million, or 8.6% of the population, the lowest number on record. In that respect, Obamacare has been a success, as its goal was to reduce the number of people who could not buy health insurance.

Latinos and low-income people are the biggest beneficiaries, as they receive subsidies to buy their health plan. But in order for that to happen, other people pay higher premiums and deductibles.

Official estimates calculate increases of 25% in 38 states dependant on the federal healthcare marketplace and of 22% for states who created their own marketplace. In addition, the number of plans available to consumers has gone down in a number of states.

Arizona is the most extreme case: The state went from having 65 plans to 4. An estimated 21% of customers in states affiliated to the federal marketplace will have one health insurance company to choose from, compared to only 2% in 2016.

One of the problems is that the necessary balance between sick and healthy people for the business to be profitable for health insurance companies does not exist because young people did not sign up in the expected numbers. This has driven companies to pull out of the Obamacare market, unbalancing the competition that was expected to keep costs under control.

The most affected states are those depending on the federal market, whose governors or Republican legislators refused to build one for the state in an effort to make the law fail.

Congress Republicans want to eliminate Obamacare to replace it with a number of measures that will not reduce costs and will leave more people uncovered instead because this is not their priority.

The ACA needs adjustments to gradually adapt to the changing circumstances. This is normal; the system respects and depends on the free market. Its biggest obstacles are political interests, which would rather destroy the law than repair it.