What is free health care? Would Americans benefit from such a plan? And, most importantly, where would the money come from to pay for medical expenses? To answer these questions, let’s first discuss the current Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how that has changed our formerly private health insurance policies.
ACA – Also Known as “Obamacare”
The Affordable Care Act got its moniker “Obamacare” because former president Barack Obama signed and implemented the legislation. The intent was to make it so that all Americans could afford to seek medical care. However, someone has to pay for those who can’t afford the insurance. In this case, money paid by the young and healthy was used to help cover the expenses of the sick and elderly. Those who did not have coverage were fined.
ACA is complicated and there are some who absolutely approve of it and others who strenuously oppose it. Many people who couldn’t afford medical coverage were able to get low cost, and sometimes even free, services through the Act – especially the unemployed and poor. However, the middle-class struggled to be able to afford the insurance and in many instances the price they had been paying before ACA was a lot less, making the new coverage a huge financial strain.
Private Health Insurance
Before the Affordable Care Act, citizens bought medical insurance through companies that offered different levels of coverage and cost. Employees from most companies could purchase the coverage through their employer at a discounted rate. The insured had more options and a broader pool of doctors and specialists to choose from for their care.
Health care is a business, and a very profitable one at that, but to keep raking in its million-dollar profits, providers had to be competitive. This meant companies competed against each other for the best prices for their customers, which usually meant lower prices for the insured. And, no one was fined for not having medical coverage.
When President Donald Trump ran for office, he promised to get rid of “Obamacare” and replace it with a better system. However, neither side of the aisle has been able to agree on the proposed changes. While the health care plan is still operating, Trump was able to cancel specific aspects, such as fining people for not having it.
The 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls such as Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are advocating for free health care, also known as Medicare-for-All. This is a very popular topic that has the country debating the value of such a system and the complications that would come with it.
Providing free health care for everyone in America sounds like a good idea, but those who oppose it see problems with the plan. For one thing, someone has to pay for it, which means taxpayers will have to foot the hefty bill. The cost is estimated at more than $30 trillion over the next 10 years, or $3 trillion per year. To put this into prospective, the country’s entire budget is $4 trillion a year.
This plan would also mean getting rid of private health insurance companies so that all medical care would be overseen by the government. Proponents of the initiative promise lower costs to customers, but some fear that also means doctors and medical professionals would receive about 40% less pay than they do now. Education and training to become a doctor is very expensive and can take years to pay off after obtaining the degree, which means this may deter people from the profession. Some fear the system would create more problems than it solves, leaving the insured with fewer options and choices on primary care doctors, which hospitals to go to, and other treatment options.
On the other hand, if this type of government-run program works out, then all Americans can have medical care regardless of their income.