COLUMBIA, S.C. —Two University of South Carolina professors who are experts on health care and insurance have different views on how the U.S. House Republicans’ health care bill would affect you. They do agree that it will, though.
The bill would replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. It would repeal the requirement that everyone buy health insurance and the penalties for those who don’t. It would also eliminate the subsidies that help people pay their premiums. Because of that, it’s estimated that 24 million people who have health insurance now would lose it.
Ronda Hughes, director of the Center for Nursing Leadership at USC, has done research on how to improve health care. She says one of her biggest concerns about the plan is for people who have preexisting conditions, which is half of all Americans. “You will have the opportunity to enroll in some type of health insurance, but your premiums are going to most likely be such that you simply cannot pay for it,” she says.
And she says the fact that so many people would no longer have health insurance means people who do have it will see their premiums go up. “Say you’re driving down the road, you’re in a major car accident. That could easily be a $100,000 hospital bill. You don’t have insurance, and the hospital absorbs the cost of that. Problem with that is then it’s passed on to everyone else,” she says.
But Robert Hartwig, a USC economist and one of the nation’s foremost experts on insurance and risk management, says, “Consumers can look at this both with positives and negatives. There’s going to be more choice for consumers. There’s no question there’s going to be more health plans and some of those health plans will cost less. But the reason they will cost less is because they will be less comprehensive. And one of the biggest differences between the Affordable Care Act–Obamacare–and what’s now being called Trumpcare or whatever emerges from the Senate, is that the coverage will be less comprehensive if you want it to be less comprehensive.”
He says people with preexisting conditions may end up in high-risk pools, which are now used for things like homeowners insurance for people who live along the coast.
As far as more people going to ERs to get health care after they lose their health insurance, he says this plan would give a lot of the responsibility back to the states to come up with ways to pay for indigent care.