Americans rejected the Affordable Care Act for the last time on November 8. Nationwide, polling shows that nearly 60 percent of Americans support repealing some aspect of the health-care law. Now it’s up to President-elect Donald Trump and the GOP Congress to repeal Obamacare and deliver patient-centered health-care reform.
It’s easy to see why a clear majority of Americans rejected Obamacare at the ballot box. In the six years since Obamacare passed, Americans have experienced firsthand the harms of a one-size-fits-all health-care “reform.” We were promised more choice, lower costs, and better access to care—none of which have materialized for the vast majority of Americans.
Remember: This Is a Perfectly Horrible Law
A third of all U.S. counties are set to only have one insurer on the exchanges next year, a dearth of options that’s a 300 percent increase from 2016. It’s not just health insurance options that are dwindling. In the last years alone, nearly one in four adults has lost access to his or her doctor, according to a recent Morning Consult poll.
Americans are paying more for nearly every component of health-care expenses. The cost of employer-provided plans has increased by more than 35 percent since the law was enacted, meaning that the average family plan has climbed from $13,375 to $18,142 per year. Those on the individual marketplace have seen even steeper hikes. The Manhattan Institute estimates that premiums rose by 41 percent from 2013 to 2014, with additional increases in the years since. In 2017 alone, Obamacare premiums are set to rise by an average of 25 percent.
And premium increases are only half of the cost equation. Deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses have risen, too. Some families now must pay $10,000 in medical expenses before their insurance kicks in, and deductibles keep increasing ever year. They were up 8.4 percent on average between 2015 and 2016, with further increases planned in the coming months.
Then there’s the question of quality care. It’s been all-too-often the case that even with Obamacare plans, individuals can’t find the doctors or care they need. To take just one example, let’s look at California, often hailed as a poster-state for Obamacare. Researchers called more than 700 primary care doctors listed in the marketplace directory and found that a staggering 75 percent were unavailable to see Obamacare patients.
This trend isn’t unique to the Golden State. Patients across the country have experienced the same frustration and lack of care. In many cases, the best hospitals aren’t covered at all under Obamacare plans. As a small-business owner in New York summed up, “Anyone who is on these plans knows it’s a two-tiered system.”
Time to Fix Obamacare’s Fatal Flaw
These problems have mounted every year since the law passed. They point to a simple conclusion: The law has failed even by the standards set by those who passed it. It has failed because the premise of the law is fundamentally flawed. It assumes that a top-down, government-run health-care system is the best solution. Yet this has never been the case, and it never will be.
Now GOP leaders must live up to their promise to repeal the law and relieve the American people from its proliferating problems. This won’t be a simple task. There are many layers to the law that are already entrenched in the health-care system. But it will be worthwhile, not only because millions of Americans have entrusted them to repeal Obamacare; but also because repealing the law is the only way to bring about real reform.
Undoubtedly, some lawmakers will try to substitute Obamacare with a different government-run solution. But the goal should not be to replace Obamacare with another top-down, one-size-fits-all program. Nor should it be to simply focus on the insurance element of health care. As Obamacare has proven, a health insurance card does not mean anything if individuals cannot access affordable, quality care.
Here Are a Few Places to Start
Instead, lawmakers should reform health care so every aspect is patient-centered and focused on championing an array of market-based solutions. What do these reforms look like? There are myriad possibilities. That’s the benefit of opening up innovation to the people, rather than constricting control to the government. Here are a few places Congress could start.
- Increase affordability of and access to life-saving drugs by bringing the Food and Drug Administration approval process into the twenty-first century. Congress should modernize the FDA approval process, establish FDA reciprocity, and pass “right to try” legislation so patients can have a chance at treatments that could save their lives.
- Remove barriers to direct primary care. An increasing number of individuals would prefer to pay their physician directly, rather than using insurance companies that often restrict options and raise costs. Congress can reform regulations, the tax code, and entitlement programs to grant individuals more fair and flexible treatment.
- Expand care, including lifting the arbitrary caps on medical residencies so that there are more doctors to meet patients’ needs. This includes opening the gateway to more innovative solutions such as telemedicine and home care by reforming onerous regulations.
These are just a few of the potential reform areas, but each would focus on restoring the patient-doctor relationship and shrinking the government’s role in health care. That way, doctors, health providers, and individuals are empowered to innovate and expand options that better meet patients’ needs. After all, doctors and patients, not the politicians and bureaucrats, know what care best fits their needs. The result of such a system would be greater affordability, effectiveness, and access to quality health care.
Voters have made it crystal clear that Obamacare has failed them. The longer the law stays in place, the more people will suffer under it. That’s why repealing Obamacare and relieving Americans from the failed law must be a top priority come January.